Courtesy of NAA:
In NAA’s recent visit with House and Senate members, Representatives and Senators responded positively to waiving the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) cap limiting access to USDA disaster assistance programs if farm income was 75% or more from farming.
What can you do to make sure this waiver is included in the 2023 Farm Bill?
Call or email your Representative and Senators and explain that during four days in February 2021 a catastrophic Texas winter storm killed 10 million pounds farmed redfish produced in the United States valued at $37.8 million. There is no crop insurance for US aquaculture; however, the USDA Farm Service Agency responded to farmer and Congressional request to expand the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey-Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) to include shellfish, shrimp and other farmed aquatic animals.
Please add that while you are very appreciative for the expanded aquaculture eligibility for ELAP, additional changes by Congress are needed to make the program effective for aquaculture products and farmers. Currently, farms with an Adjusted Gross Income exceeding $900,000 are not eligible for ELAP payments.
State your request:
Please include in the 2023 Farm Bill language to waive the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) eligibility cap associated with USDA disaster assistance programs for farms or ranches that derive 75% or more of their income from farm or ranch production.
Explain why this is a good idea and beneficial to your farm:
- Prior to the expanded ELAP eligibility, there was no catastrophic disaster assistance available for US aquaculture. Currently there are no insurance options.
- Aquaculture is a capital intense farming effort with high input costs, long growing cycles, and high value end-products. The current $900,000 cap has not accounted for inflation and increasing labor, feed, equipment, and maintenance costs.
- Waiving this cap will benefit all U.S. aquaculture farms through stabilizing supply chains for small farmers and giving larger farms a disaster safety net, which buoys production chains following natural disasters.
- Catastrophic disruptions to large farms have severe rippling effects throughout the industry. Most small-family aquaculture farms are not vertically integrated. These farms rely heavily on aquaculture hatcheries to supply juvenile shellfish, fish, and shrimp for grow-out. Larger farms with processing and storage capacity purchase or distribute their products from smaller farms.
Respectfully request favorable action by your Representative and Senators to include language in the Farm Bill amending the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) cap for agricultural disaster assistance. Thank staff for their hard work and extend an invitation for your Representative and Senators (and staff) to visit your farm.
Remember you do not have to call DC offices which can be jammed with calls. Contact your local and state offices. They are hot-wired to the DC offices to communicate what farmer voters are asking. To find your Representative, click here. To find your Senators, click here.
If you have questions or comments, contact Paul Zajicek, Executive Director, National Aquaculture Association, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-443-3456.