Recent Press Releases

Thune's Efforts to Extend Ad Hoc Disaster Deadline Successful

Ad Hoc Disaster Program Deadline Extended in Omnibus Appropriations Bill

December 18, 2007

Washington, D.C. —  Today Senator John Thune announced that his hard fought efforts to extend the deadline for crop and livestock disaster assistance to December 31, 2007 were successful. The Omnibus Appropriations bill, which is expected to pass the Senate later this evening, includes Thune's disaster program extension legislation, which would assist agriculture producers in South Dakota who suffered crop and livestock losses after February 28, 2007.

"Although South Dakota farmers and ranchers fared better this past year than in previous years, weather problems are always a lingering threat," said Thune. "For example, the northeastern part of the state was hard hit by heavy rains and flooding early this year, and later in the summer the southwestern part of the state suffered drought losses."

On August 3rd, Senator Thune introduced S.2012, the Agricultural Emergency Financial Assistance Act of 2007, which amended the ad hoc disaster legislation that was passed in May. Thune followed this legislative action by signing a letter (attached) along with 13 other Senators urging Senate Appropriations Chairmen and Ranking Members to extend the February 28th deadline to December 31st.

"As we focused on the Disaster Program in the farm bill the past few months, I continually reminded my colleagues that we had a `gap to fill' between February 28th and December 31, 2007. I am pleased that the eligibility deadline has been extended and additional funds are available for 2007 crop and livestock losses," said Thune. "It is my hope that future agriculture losses will be covered by a permanent disaster program like the one included in the Senate Farm Bill."

Disaster losses for 2005, 2006, or through February 28, 2007, are covered under the emergency disaster assistance legislation that Congress passed in May. With the extended deadline in the Omnibus Appropriations bill, producers are still limited to eligibility for disaster assistance in only one of the three years, and may choose which year to receive payment for eligible disaster losses.

In 2007, a total of 23 South Dakota counties have been named as primary and contiguous counties under Secretarial disaster designations for drought and a total of 48 South Dakota counties have been named as primary and contiguous counties under Presidential disaster declarations.

To date, Butte, Campbell, Potter, Sully, Hughes, Walworth, Dewey, and Stanley Counties are the only South Dakota counties that have NOT been named in 2007 under any type of disaster designation or declaration; however, producers in these counties may be eligible for disaster assistance for 2005, or 2006 crop and livestock losses.

Nationwide, to date for calendar year 2007, more than 1,300 of the nation's 3,141 counties have been named under a Presidential disaster designation as primary or contiguous counties, and more than 2,500 counties have been named Secretarial disaster designation areas as primary or contiguous counties.

"Hopefully this is the last ad hoc disaster program we have to enact as I find it unacceptable that disaster assistance is often times held hostage by partisan politics. I will continue to fight to ensure that the Senate-passed permanent disaster program is included in the final Farm Bill. A permanent disaster program means that producers are more likely to receive timely assistance when losses occur," said Thune.