Emergency Funding for Agriculture:
A Brief History of Congressional Action,
1988 - June 1999
Ralph M. Chite
Specialist in Agricultural
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
July 19, 1999
Between 1988 and June 1999, thirteen emergency supplemental or farm
disaster acts provided a total of $17 billion in emergency funding for U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) programs. The vast majority of this amount has gone directly to
farmers, primarily in the form of disaster payments ($12.2 billion) to any farmer
suffering a significant crop loss caused by a natural disaster, and "market
loss" payments ($3.1 billion) to help grain, cotton, and dairy farmers recover from
low farm commodity prices. The remaining $1.7 billion has gone to a wide array of other
USDA programs, including those for other forms of farm disaster assistance, farm loans,
and overseas food aid. Congress is expected to consider a multi-billion financial
assistance package for farmers sometime this year. This report will be updated to reflect
any future enacted spending measures.
Major Emergency Supplemental
Appropriations Acts and Farm
Disaster Acts Providing USDA Assistance, 1988-99
Act of 1988
August II, 1988)
|Authorized USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation
(CCC) to use its authority to borrow from the U.S. Treasury, in order to provide direct
disaster payments to farmers for 1988 crop losses using payment formula in this statute.
authorized livestock feed assistance programs. No specific appropriation made, nor
limitations placed on payment formulas in the act. CCC outlays in FY1989 were $3.386
billion for direct disaster payments under this act.
Act of 1989
|Authorized the CCC to provide disaster
payments to farmers for 1989 crop losses. Payments were not direct cash payments, but
instead were made in the form of certificates redeemable for Government-owned grain. No
specific appropriation, nor limitation placed on formula payment. The CCC ultimately
provided $1.46 billion in commodity certificates under this act.
natural disasters and incremental costs of
|Authorized the CCC to make $1.75
billion in direct disaster payments for 1990 and 1991 crop losses, using a
payment formula authorized by the 1990 farm bill (P.L. 101-624). Of this total amount,
$995 million was available for 1990 or 1991
crop losses. The remaining $755 million was made available for 1990, 1991 or 1992 crop
losses, pending a request as an emergency designation by the Administration, which was
later granted. $100 million of the total was reserved for program crops planted in 1991
for harvest in 1992.
|Provided $382 million in farm disaster
payments immediately to supplement the $755 million made available by P.L.
102-229 (see above). Authorized an additional $100 million for disaster payments,
pending a separate budget request by the President (later granted in 1993).
P.L. 102-368 also provided $169 million in other
USDA-administered disaster assistance including:
$48 million for the Tree Assistance Program (cost-sharing program to replant tree
stands destroyed by a disaster);
$50 million for emergency watershed programs (repair damages to waterways and
watersheds near farmland);
$27.5 million for the Emergency Conservation program (rehabilitation of farmland
following a disaster);
$43.285 million in loan subsidy for USDA to make $162.5 million in additional
emergency disaster loans.
|No new disaster payment funding. The Act
allowed USDA to apply the unexpended authority for disaster payments (approximately $300
million) in P.L. 102-229 and P.L. 102- 368 to make disaster payments for reductions in
crop quality caused by any natural disaster affecting a 1990 through 1993 crop. Also
allowed these unexpended funds to be used for any future crop losses (1993 through 1995)
associated with Hurricane Andrew (1992).
Relief From the
Flooding in the
Midwest Act of 1993
|The Act provided approximately $2.5
billion in total farm disaster payments for losses associated with the Midwest
flood of 1993, and other agricultural disasters. Of this amount, the Act provided a
specific appropriation of $1.050 billion immediately, another $300 million in contingent
appropriations, and allowed the CCC to borrow as much as necessary to fully fund the
payment formula (which later amounted to approximately $1.1 billion in additional
$30 million for the Emergency Conservation Program and
$35 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations.
|Enacted in response to the major California
earthquake in Jan. 1993, the Act allowed the CCC to use its borrowing authority to fund
the Tree Assistance Program for any 1993 crop year disaster. CCC spending for 1993
TAP-eligible losses was $9.2 million. The Act also allowed nursery crops
to be included in 1993 crop loss payments under P.L. 103-75 above.
|In response to Hurricane Bertha and other
disasters, the Act
provided $143 million for various USDA programs, including:
$80.514 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations,
$30 million for the Emergency Conservation Program;
$32.244 million in loan subsidy to support $110 million in additional farm
emergency disaster loans.
|In response to Hurricanes Fran and Hortense
and other disasters, the P.L. 104-208 provided $88 million for USDA flood
assistance programs, including :
$63 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations, and
$25 million for the Emergency Conservation Program.
for Recovery from
and for Overseas
Those in Bosnia
|The Act made available $313 million in
emergency farm assistance including,
$166 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention 0perations;$70 million for the
Emergency Conservation Program;
$50 million for the Livestock Indemnity Program, (which pays farmers a certain
amount for each head of cattle lost to a disaster);
$9 million for the Tree Assistance Program;
$18 million in loan subsidy to support $70 million in additional USDA emergency
For more information, see CRS Report 97-600, Food and
Agriculture Provisions in the FY1997 Supplemental Appropriations Act.
|In response to El Nino-driven storms and other
natural disasters, the Act provided a total of $159.8 million in emergency farm
$80 million for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program;$34 million for the
Emergency Conservation Program;
$14 million for the Tree Assistance Program; $21 million in loan subsidy to support
$87.4 million in additional emergency disaster loans;
$4 million for the Livestock Indemnity Program; and $6.8 million for dairy farmer
For more information, see CRS Report 98-478, Agricultural Provisions in the FY1998
Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 105-174)
|Provided a total of $5.893 billion in
emergency supplemental appropriations to USDA, primarily for assistance to
farmers for natural disasters and low farm
commodity prices, including:
$3.057 billion in "market loss payments" made to grain, cotton and dairy
farmers in response to low farm commodity prices;
$1.5 billion in farm disaster payments for 1998 crop losses;
$875 million in disaster payments for multi-year crop losses;
$200 million for livestock feed assistance (for livestock farmers who lost on farm
feed to a disaster);
$50 million in Alaska salmon assistance;
$40 million for USDA Farm Service Agency salaries to administer various farm
$31.4 million in loan subsidy to support a variety of existing direct and
guaranteed farm loan programs;
$25 million for Food for Progress, an overseas food aid program;
$27 million for recourse loans to mohair growers;
$1 million for honey recourse loans.
information, see CRS Report 98-952, The Emergency Agricultural Provisions in the
FY1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
|Provided nearly $574 million in
emergency assistance for USDA programs, including:
$145 million for USDA's Section 32 program, to help stabilize farm prices;
$105.6 million in loan subsidy to support additional loans of $1.095 billion for
various USDA farm loan programs;
$95 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention;
$70 million for the Livestock Assistance Program, to reimburse farmers for the loss
of on-farm feed to a disaster;
$42.75 million in salaries and expenses of USDA's Farm Service Agency, for
administering emergency programs;
$32 million for various rural development programs in response to a hurricane in
$28 million for the Emergency Conservation Program;
$28 million for Conservation Reserve Program technical assistance;
$20 million for migrant and seasonal farmworker assistance;
$3 million for livestock indemnity payments.
included in the above total is an additional $149.2 million in emergency
food assistance to the Balkans through the P.L. 480 program.
|Between August 1988 and June 1999, various
emergency supplemental acts and farm disaster acts provided a total of $17 billion
in emergency supplemental funding for USDA programs. This total includes $12.2
billion in direct payments following a natural disaster (FY1989-1999), and $3.06 billion
in market loss payments to help farmers recover from low farm commodity prices (FY1999).
Not included in the $17 billion is an additional $1.1 billion in emergency livestock feed
assistance provided from FY1989 until FY1996 under the ongoing authority of the Disaster
Assistance Act of 1988.