RESTORE Act aims to help Texas ag recover from natural disasters

By Julie Tomascik

Two Texas Congressmen this week introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at helping Texas agriculture recover from February’s winter storm.

The Rehabilitating Economic Success Through Overcoming Rural Emergencies (RESTORE) Act, HR 1692, would provide disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers. The bill would re-authorize the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to aid farmers and ranchers in recovering from natural disasters in 2020 and 2021.

“I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort for Texas’ agriculture community alongside my colleague, Congressman Cuellar,” Jackson said. “The historic winter conditions experienced in Texas resulted in over $600 million of agricultural losses, leaving many crops and dairy products destroyed. In Texas, agriculture production is critical for our economy and food supply. The RESTORE Act will go a long way to support our farmers during this tumultuous time as they work on restoring their operations. This bill will also re-stabilize our food supply, which recent events have proven is not invincible. Texans are resilient, so I know we will get through this together.”

Winter Storm Uri left devastating effects on Texas agriculture, but 2020 was also a difficult year for farmers and ranchers in the Lone Star State.

After several months of drought conditions, Hurricane Hanna slammed the Texas Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley. Farmers, ranchers and other agribusinesses in the area suffered major losses from the Category 1 hurricane.

“Texas Farm Bureau is pleased Congressmen Ronny Jackson and Henry Cuellar have introduced the RESTORE Act to provide needed and expanded assistance for farmers and ranchers impacted by extreme weather events. Whether it was the most recent winter storm, hurricanes in 2020 or ongoing drought conditions in other regions of the state, Texas agricultural producers are in desperate need of relief,” Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said. “We thank Congressmen Jackson and Cuellar for working to address these challenges head-on. Texas Farm Bureau is proud to support this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to working with leaders in Congress to provide relief for hardworking farm and ranch families across the country.”

WHIP+ compensates farmers and ranchers for losses due to natural disasters like many in Texas experienced in 2020 and so far in 2021.

“Texas farmers and ranchers have suffered widespread and catastrophic losses from recent natural disasters. This legislation will provide critical assistance to crop and livestock producers because of droughts, extreme cold and power outages,” Cuellar said. “As a senior member of the Agricultural Subcommittee on Appropriations, I am committed to delivering support to our agricultural industry who work every day to put food on our tables during this pandemic and beyond.”

WHIP+ previously provided payments to farmers and ranchers to offset losses from drought or excess moisture in 2018 and 2019.