From press reports and staff reports
During his May 27 visit to Winston County U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, reported that the Senate has moved to replenish Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) emergency accounts that will be used to assist Mississippians in recovering from recent tornado damage.
Cochran said the FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which gained Senate committee approval late last week, allots emergency funding to clear out application backlogs and provide initial relief from the tornado disasters. The bill provides $15 million to the FSA for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) as major disaster funding to help land owners restore forests and forest resources damaged by natural disasters.
“Early damage assessments show significant tornado damage and losses to forested areas. The funding allocations in the bill are intended to ensure that the FSA and NRCS have the resources to help Mississippi and other areas where disastrous weather causes economic and ecological losses,” said Cochran, who helped craft the bill as a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
Mississippi currently has one backlogged project requiring an estimated $100,000 in EFRP funding. Overall, the FSA has an $8.75 million national backlog for EFRP. The remaining $6.25 million in funding allotted in the Senate bill would go toward landowner applications upon the assessment of recent tornado damage.
Louisville Mayor Will Hill who toured the damage with Cochran noted that the discussions focused on job losses, recovery and healthcare.
“It is a sincere thanks to Senator Cochran for prompt attention with him visiting Winston County again,” said Hill. “It meant a lot to all of Winston County to see Senator Cochran focus his attentions on the future of the plywood facility, agriculture, healthcare, and the overall future of our county.”
In addition to the EFRP funding, the bill also provides $110 million for the NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program and $11.7 million for the FSA Emergency Conservation Program to help producers rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes.
Cochran indicated that there is hope that the Senate will debate FY2015 appropriations bills in June and July.