Budget bill holds farmer benefits

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A bipartisan budget act has passed in both chambers of Congress and that will help out disaster relief for farmers across the U.S.

Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts says not only does the bill avoid a government shutdown, it also has disaster assistance for several states hit hard by natural disasters and improves livestock assistance programs.

Specifically more funds are available for the Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Programs. Roberts notes there's a revision of the Livestock Indemnity Program, that lets producers who had livestock injured during a natural disaster and sold for less qualify for a payment.

House Ag Committee Chair Michael Conaway says delegations from Texas and Florida worked to get something for their producers hurt by hurricanes. The bill has $89 billion for disaster aid, $3.5 billion of that is intended for the agriculture industry.

Conaway says there's also relief for cotton an dairy safety net gaps.

However, the Section 199A provision from the tax bill last year, that incentives farmers selling to cooperatives over private grain handlers, did not get a fix. Lawmakers say they will work with the grain industry to find a solution.