New England farmers are being ravaged by a drought, and that’s adding to calls for changing disaster relief provisions in the next Farm Bill. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows a quarter of the region is suffering from severe drought or even worse. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says this extended dry spell comes after heavy snow and flooding hit the region over the winter. Part of the challenge in New England is a number of the smaller, diversified farms in the region have been slow to adopt provisions in the Farm Bill. Very few farms have signed up for the Whole Farm Revenue Protection Program which is designed to help smaller and more diversified farms. Those farms also haven’t signed up in great numbers for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which the New England Farmers Union says may be due to some skepticism among farmers about crop insurance, several farmers who may not know the programs exist, and heavy reporting requirements. The New England Farmers Union also wants the cost of crop insurance programs cut, as well as disaster relief loan interest rates. They say the current interest rate for disaster relief loans is higher than rates for Farm Service Agency operating loans, and they’d like to see disaster relief loans be more affordable for producers in times of crisis.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.