Recent Press Releases

Thune Introduces Bill to Extend Disaster Assistance Through 2007

More than 2,200 U.S. Counties Would be Eligible

August 14, 2007

Aberdeen, S.D. —  Today Senator John Thune announced that he's introduced legislation (S. 2012) that would extend disaster assistance authorized earlier this year to include eligible crop and livestock losses that occur throughout calendar year 2007.

Disaster losses for 2005, 2006 or through February 28, 2007, are covered under emergency disaster assistance that Congress passed in May.

"Each year significant areas scattered across the United States experience natural disasters," said Thune. "And every year, due to a lack of permanent disaster programs, Congress wrestles with providing ad hoc disaster assistance to crop and livestock producers who suffer devastating losses - 2007 is no exception."

"I'm especially concerned about the livestock producers who helplessly watched thousands of their market-ready cattle perish suddenly in this summer's heat and high humidity," commented Thune. "I personally visited with several of these producers and they told me insurance was not available to cover even a fraction of these losses," he went on to say, "nor are there any other livestock disaster assistance programs they can turn to. Their only hope is to be made eligible for payments under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which would be extended, under my bill, to include their losses."

"Although much of South Dakota is in better shape than last year, 2007 isn't giving all South Dakota producers a `free pass'", stated Thune. "Northeastern South Dakota was pounded with heavy rains and flooding during planting season, which left several hundred thousand acres prevented from being planted to a crop. More than 340,000 acres of corn, 240,000 acres of soybeans, and 26,000 acres of spring wheat were reported as prevented planning acreage in South Dakota so far for 2007. This hurts financially, especially this year when corn, soybeans, and wheat prices are at higher levels than they've been in years. Additionally, livestock producers in Southwestern South Dakota have watched thousands of acres of pastures dry up and had their hay and forage crops drastically diminished due to drought."

U.S. Disasters Widespread in 2007

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so far this year the Secretary of Agriculture has designated 1,057 counties in 22 states as primary natural disaster areas due to production losses from all causes. An additional 513 counties in 35 states have been named as contiguous counties during the same period.

The President has declared 643 counties in 28 states as primary counties under Presidential disaster declarations and 546 counties in 39 states as contiguous disaster areas.

Nationwide, 2,247 of the 3,141 counties in the United States (71.6 percent) have been declared as primary or contiguous counties so far in calendar year 2007 due to natural disaster losses.

According to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor nearly all of South Dakota is classified as "abnormally dry" with certain areas in Eastern South Dakota listed as "severe." An area of Southwestern South Dakota is categorized as "extreme." Nationwide, a significant number of U.S. states and counties have experienced dramatic reductions in rainfall in 2007.


The original disaster legislation the Congress passed in May provides that funding will be available to cover eligible losses. Although Thune's bill extends the deadline to cover eligible losses through calendar year 2007, rather than only through February 28, 2007, if Thune's bill is enacted, producers' payment amounts would not be diminished. Additional funds would be expended above the $3 billion predicted to meet the needs of the original bill. Because 2007 losses are not known, cost estimates for the additional coverage are unavailable at this time.

"I will be encouraging my colleagues in Congress who represent areas also suffering from natural disasters this year support my bill to extend the deadline."