The Albany Times-Union's Capitol Confidential blog reports today that a coalition of U.S. representatives in the House has secured $338.6 million in funding for farmers affected by the Tropical Storm Irene flooding:
Reps. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said that $338.6 million for two programs aimed at restoring damaged farmland will be included in the budget proposals presented to both the House and Senate for final approval Thursday. The package is the work of a joint legislative conference committee which began meeting three weeks ago to reconcile a Senate minibus bill covering the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development budgets with the House-approved budget passed earlier this year.
Last month, the Vermont Digger ran a story about the efforts of the bipartisan "House Hurricane Irene Coalition," founded by Vermont Democratic congressman Peter Welch, to help flooded-out farmers.
With Tonko, Gibson, and other coalition members, the Digger writes, Welch has co-sponsored several bills aimed at helping farmers recover from Irene. The bills are still in committee.
One bill, H.R. 2905, would allow farmers who do not have crop insurance to apply for USDA disaster assistance. Another, H.R. 3005 (dubbed the "Helping Devastated Farmers Act of 2011"), would provide additional farm disaster relief funding to two existing USDA programs, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
The website OpenCongress allows readers to track the progress of bills through the legislative system. We've created two widgets to track these two farm disaster relief bills and embedded them below. To read the full text of the bills or find other news coverage about them, follow the links in the widgets.