Family Farm Organization Says Government Shutdown Worsened Impact
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As farmers in Colorado deal with serious flood damage and ranchers in South Dakota dig out from an early blizzard that killed tens of thousands of cattle, Farm Aid has activated its Family Farm Disaster Fund and issued emergency grants to help farm and ranch families begin to recover.
"Our hearts go out to the Colorado farmers who saw their precious soil ripped away by rushing waters and the South Dakota ranchers who have had the terrible task of finding and burying their dead cattle," said Farm Aid president Willie Nelson. "Farmers and ranchers are caretakers first and foremost, and though their economic losses are huge, these disasters take a serious emotional toll."
To complicate the response effort following both disasters, the government shutdown closed the agencies that offer recovery services after disasters. In addition, loan approvals and disbursements, conservation program payments and essential planning reports are among the critical services that were unavailable to family farmers during the government shutdown — a situation Farm Aid says threatened the viability of farm families.
While the shutdown has ended, farmers and ranchers are still without a Farm Bill, which expired on Sept. 30. As a result of Congress' inability to pass a new Farm Bill, farmers and ranchers face many uncertainties. One of the expired farm programs is the Livestock Indemnity Program, which provides assistance to producers for livestock deaths that result from disasters.
To provide immediate relief, Farm Aid has issued emergency grants, but the organization cautions that no amount of private assistance can replace the comprehensive government services on which America's family farmers rely to conduct business and provide our food supply.
"The government shutdown made these natural disasters even more trying," said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. "Now that Congress is back to work, their first task should be to pass a fair Farm Bill that represents the interests of family farmers and all of us."
Farm Aid is working with partners in disaster-affected areas to determine long-term needs of farmers and ranchers as they recover from these disasters. If you or your family have been affected by the disasters in Colorado and South Dakota or by the government shutdown, please contact Farm Aid at 1-800-FARM-AID (800-327-6243) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional resources are available at farmaid.org/disaster. To donate, please visit farmaid.org/disasterfund.
Farm Aid's mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid's work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $43 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.
SOURCE Farm Aid