Disaster Assistance on the Way

Sylvania Telephone Newspaper, June 13, 2019

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael – the first Category 3 tropical storm to make a direct hit in Georgia in more than a century – devastated many areas of our great state. With wind gusts reaching over 100 miles per hour, this storm downed trees and power lines, destroyed poultry houses, obliterated infrastructure, and caused generational crop losses for a number of our farmers throughout South Georgia.

During the aftermath of this destructive storm, I traveled through Georgia’s 12th district to see firsthand the heart wrenching wreckage and trail of destruction that Hurricane Michael left behind. Throughout my travels, I visited a cotton farm in Waynesboro, Ga., and after seeing rows of bent stalks and significant amounts of cotton on the ground, almost resembling snow, I realized that the need for federal funding to assist our farmers with recovery efforts was going to be critical to rebuild. It is not an exaggeration to say that the losses our farmers experienced were life altering and utterly devastating.

Upon returning to Washington, I immediately began working with my colleagues from Georgia and Florida to advocate for an effective and desperately-needed disaster relief package, ensuring that those affected by natural disasters in Georgia and nationwide would receive funding to begin the rebuilding process. In addition to Hurricane Michael, when traveling the district, I continued to hear about the catastrophic effects of a late season freeze that damaged the health and vitality of our blueberry crop. I worked tirelessly to safeguard assistance in the package for those who are still suffering from production losses resulting from the 2017 freeze and hurricane.

However, in true Washington fashion, unnecessary political games led to a nearly eight-month delay in getting a disaster package across the finish line. And while Senate Democrats led the charge in postponing this relief in an effort to undermine President Trump, who paid the price? The answer: our farmers who feed and clothe this nation and whose entire livelihoods were on the line. This is unacceptable. It’s no surprise that the average age of our agricultural producers is 57 years old and continues to trend upwards.

During this process, I repeatedly stressed the urgency of getting this legislation passed in the House and Senate and sent to the President’s desk for signature. Although it took far too long, I am proud to say that we were finally able to get the job done! On Thursday, June 6, 2019, President Trump signed H.R. 2157, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, into law. Although the bill was not perfect, this crucial legislation includes $3 billion in disaster relief funds to provide for agricultural losses due to recent natural disasters, including those experienced in Georgia.

Agriculture serves as the number one industry in Georgia’s 12th district and in our great state as a whole, and I applaud President Trump for reaffirming his commitment to rural America by signing this long overdue disaster relief package into law. As the son of a farmer, I know this process has been more than challenging, and if you have any questions or concerns, my office is here to be a resource for you. I will continue to stand firmly with rural Georgians during times of need and always. We must do everything in our power to ensure that this type of political standoff does not become commonplace. I am relieved that our farmers and ranchers can now focus their efforts on this crop year with the certainty of disaster relief on the way.

Rep. Rick Allen represents the 12th Congressional District of Georgia.

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