Bustos creates congressional Crop Insurance Caucus

Pritzker asks FEMA to join in assessing flood damage for federal aid

U.S. Rep. Bustos meets with the Rock Island County Farm Bureau earlier this year. (Twitter/RepCheri)

U.S. Rep. Bustos meets with the Rock Island County Farm Bureau earlier this year. (Twitter/RepCheri)

By Ted Cox

An Illinois congresswoman who grew up a farm girl herself has joined to create the congressional Crop Insurance Caucus.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline cheered the bipartisan effort in creating the caucus with U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican.

“I know we have a lot of our family farmers who are hurting right now,” said Bustos, a Springfield native and daughter of a hog farmer. “Farmers across the country are facing a tough economy, a reckless trade war, and unpredictable weather conditions — they need to know Congress has their backs.

“Crop insurance should never be a partisan issue,” she added, “and I’m proud to work across the aisle with Congressman Thompson to build support in Congress for our farm safety net. As a member of the Agriculture Committee since I was elected to Congress, I’ll continue to be a tireless fighter for Illinois farm families.”

According to a news release put out by Bustos’s office, the caucus will “organize quarterly educational briefings to help members of Congress and staff better understand the program, remain aware of current crop-insurance issues, and build bipartisan support for the farm safety net in Congress.”

“Many unforeseeable factors impact yields, price, and finances of agricultural producers, and that uncertainty makes the industry susceptible to risk,” Thompson said. “For the long-term success of American agriculture and our national food supply, it is critical that farmers and ranchers have access to voluntary tools to help manage that risk. I’m proud to serve as co-chair of the House Crop Insurance Caucus in order to support our farm families, economy, and national food security.”

The whole process of crop insurance and prevent-plant claims is complex, to farmers as well as U.S. representatives, and it’s been complicated this year with the torrential spring rains that caused flooding and delayed planting. The Illinois Farm Bureau has conducted webinars intended to help farmers know when to plant, when not to, and when to file claims whether crops have been planted or not.

On Tuesday, Gov. Pritzker formally called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to join its Illinois counterpart and the U.S. Small Business Administration in performing damage assessments in 30 state counties hurt by flooding that goes back to February.

“Local damage assessments have identified countless homes, businesses, and roads that there were heavily damaged or destroyed during this historic flood,” Pritzker said. “It is clear that the road to recovery will be difficult and that the impact of this disaster will be felt for years to come. This administration will work hand in hand with our state and federal partners to ensure Illinois rebuilds stronger and more resilient.”

The damage assessments will begin before the end of the month and “will provide the documentation necessary to support a request for federal assistance,” according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.

Pritzker has been persistent in pursuing federal relief aid for the flooding and the farm crisis. Earlier this month, he urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare the entire state a disaster area in a bid for federal funding.

The joint damage assessments are set to take place in LaSalle, Carroll, Whiteside, Rock Island, Mercer, Henderson, Knox, Henry, Pike, Morgan, Woodford, Calhoun, Madison, Monroe, Bureau, Hancock, Adams, Peoria, Fulton, Schuyler, Cass, Scott, Tazewell, Greene, Jersey, St. Clair, Randolph, Jackson, Union and Alexander counties, and they’re expected to take several weeks.