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Rep. Jackson Sends Letter Demanding Answers from USDA on Failed Emergency Relief Program

WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday,  Congressmen Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Jodey Arrington (TX-19), and August Pfluger (TX-11), along with Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS), led a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack addressing his failure to properly administer much needed disaster assistance payments to agricultural producers for crop losses in the 2022 crop year. The letter follows the USDA announcing misguided changes to the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), a program meant to provide financial assistance to America’s farmers and ranchers for agriculture losses due to natural disasters. This announcement came less than one month after Congressman Jackson called on USDA to release information on their plan to distribute disaster assistance nearly a year after funds were appropriated. 

Jackson said: 
“When hard times fell on farmers and ranchers, Congress made a conscience decision to support the men and women who dedicate their lives to feed and clothe the world. Farmers have struggled to deal with the Biden administration's radical economic policies, causing a steep rise in input costs and major labor shortages, all on top of catastrophic natural disasters. Instead of distributing disaster relief assistance quickly and efficiently to mitigate weather challenges in 2022, the USDA has radically changed the Emergency Relief Program to prioritize DEI initiatives and make deeper payment cuts that punish full time farmers. I will not sit idly by as the agriculture community is dismantled by this administration. As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Representative for one of the largest agricultural producing districts in the country, I will always be a leader in Congress to ensure our farmers and ranchers get the support they deserve.”

Arrington said: “Disasters don’t discriminate against farmers based on their race or gender and neither should our government programs. The USDA's 2022 Emergency Relief Program (ERP) gives higher disaster payments to producers based on the color of their skin and biological sex - rather than targeting farmers with the greatest need. This is just another example of the Biden Administration using identity politics to drive public policy. These discriminatory and divisive practices have no place in America.”

Marshall said: "Joe Biden's war on American agriculture continues. It seems like every program put forward by this administration comes with arbitrary restrictions that hurt farmers and ranchers in an effort to advance their political agenda. The Emergency Relief Program was once workable and effective but has now fallen into total disrepair. There is no sound logic to scuttling a good program that received near-universal praise from Congress and farmers for a proposal this bad. I'm glad the department paused the program; however, as long as the ERP remains in this broken condition, there is little reason to support its further extension or to fine-tune this failure. Farmers need assistance now, and USDA needs to return to their old program to get these dollars out the door."

Pfluger said: "As a representative for prolific farming and ranching communities, I am deeply concerned about the methodology being used in the implementation of the USDA's Emergency Relief Program for 2022. Especially amid economic turmoil, the Biden Administration must have our agriculture producers' backs by swiftly adopting a system that fulfills the intended purpose of assisting our farm families in need without unwarranted limitations."

The full letter can be found here. Co-signers include Majority Leader Steve Scalise (LA-01), Frank Lucas (OK-03), Rick Crawford (AR-01), David Rouzer (NC-07), Don Bacon (NE-02), Dusty Johnson (SD-at-Large), Jim Baird (IN-04), Tracey Mann (KS-01), Barry Moore (AL-02), Brad Finstad (MN-01), Monica De La Cruz (TX-15), Mark Alford (MO-04), Troy Nehls (TX-22), Mike Flood (NE-01), Scott Franklin (FL-18), Julia Letlow (LA-05), Keith Self (TX-03), Roger Williams (TX-25), Kay Granger (TX-12), Jake Ellzey (TX-06), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Byron Donalds (FL-19), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Jake LaTurner (KS-02), Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Lance Gooden (TX-05), Wesley Hunt (TX-38), Mike Ezell (MS-4), Ralph Norman (SC-5), Stephanie Bice (OK-05), Nathanial Moran (TX-01), Michael Guest (MS-03), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), John Rose (TN-06), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Morgan Luttrell (TX-08), Brian Babin (TX-36), Rick Allen (GA-12), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Russell Fry (SC-07), Kate Cammack (FL-03), Randy Weber (TX-14), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), John Moolenaar (MI-02), Michael Cloud (TX-27), John Carter (TX-31), Greg Steube (FL-17), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Ron Estes (KS-04), Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Michael Burgess (TX-26), Chip Roy (TX-21), Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), Pat Fallon (TX-04), and Tony Gonzales (TX-23), and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), James Lankford (R-OK), and Pete Ricketts (R-NE).