Roby: Help is on the way for farmers
As those of us who live and work in the Second District remember well, last year on October 10, Hurricane Michael made landfall and ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. This storm was the third most powerful hurricane to ever descend upon the United States mainland. The destruction left in its wake was devastating, and many people are still trying desperately to recover.
After eight long months, I am glad to finally report that Congress approved and the president signed into law H.R. 2157, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, which includes more than $3 billion for agriculture disaster relief. I am very glad that we have at last delivered this long-overdue assistance for farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the Southeast. Now, we can begin the process of helping the many Americans who have suffered extreme devastation. I believe it is important that the people I represent understand what this process looks like moving forward, so I would like to take this opportunity to briefly lay it out.
Now that the bill has been passed by Congress and signed by the president, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin implementing the law and its programs. Farmers will have to sign up for relief assistance through USDA, and more information about USDA disaster assistance programs is available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/. Next in the process, USDA will determine who receives these disaster assistance funds. Once these decisions are made, USDA will begin the process of distributing these dollars.
While I am very glad that Congress at last delivered on our responsibility to make these funds available, there remains a road ahead for USDA’s actions before assistance is distributed. Still, I want the farmers I represent in southeast Alabama to know with confidence that help is on the way. I encourage you to share information about this process with the farmers you know who might benefit from hearing about it, and of course, if you are a farmer seeking assistance funds, make sure you sign up through USDA when the time comes. No sign-up deadline has been issued yet, but I will be sure to keep you updated as we move forward through the process.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Alabama and in the Second District, so it is vitally important that we quickly provide assistance to those who need it. When your farm, your family member’s farm, or your neighbor’s farm is flourishing, that is a good sign that our entire state’s economy is strong, too. A vibrant agriculture economy means we have a vibrant Alabama economy, and that is something we all want. I remain committed to ensuring that Alabama’s farmers get the help they need as we work to rebuild together.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.