$19.1 billion disaster aid bill signed by President Trump

A long-awaited disaster relief bill has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith praised President Trump for signing the supplemental disaster appropriations bill.  “By signing this bill, President Trump has set in motion the process of getting these needed resources to disaster areas.  It’s important that 2019 disasters are covered in this bill, which should help Mississippi regions hurt by historic flood, tornadoes, and other tragedies.”

Hyde-Smith voted for the disaster relief measure, which will provide crucial aid for states like Mississippi that have been hurt by disasters in 2018 and 2019. Hyde-Smith cited emergency funding for the Mississippi River and Tributaries project and farm disaster assistance will be available to address needs in the state.

The following are highlights of provisions in the bill of importance to Mississippi:

Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies

  • Farm Disaster Assistance – $3.0 billion to assist producers who experienced losses stemming from natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.

The benefit to Mississippi: 

  • Covers the 225,000 flooded acres within the Yazoo Backwater Area and elsewhere that cannot be planted in 2019 due to flooding or excessive rainfall.
  • Covers losses associated with damage to on-farm stored commodities as a result of 2019 flooding.
  • Allows the Secretary of Agriculture to provide assistance in the form of block grants to eligible states, which may include compensation for forestry restoration, poultry, and livestock losses.
  • Emergency Forest Restoration Program – Provides funding for necessary expenses related to floods and tornadoes in 2019.  This is important to Mississippi because forested areas in the South Delta that have been under water for months may be lost, and because tornadoes and flooding in other parts of Mississippi caused substantial damage to private forestland.
  • Additional USDA Aid – Provides significant USDA funding for the Emergency Conservation Program, Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations, and Rural Community Facilities Program to cover expenses related to tornadoes and floods in 2019.

Energy and Water Development

  • Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) – $575 million in the MR&T account and $908 million in operation and maintenance funding to support emergency repairs and rehabilitation of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects damaged by natural disasters.

The benefit to Mississippi:

  • The Mississippi River has been above flood stage for more than 100 days.  Repairs to hundreds of miles of mainline and backwater levees will be necessary, as well as repairs to flood control reservoirs, silted in ports, and related damages.

The measure also provides emergency funding for other federal agencies with disaster relief responsibilities.  For example, funding is available to the Department of Labor and Department of Education to help economic recovery for businesses and schools that suffered damages from 2019 disasters.