Some $630 million for 2009 disaster payments is headed to U.S. producers. Although the amount is about half of what was being sought, Mid-South legislators have touted the secured funding.

“I’m extremely pleased to announce the release of long-awaited agriculture disaster assistance to Mississippi’s, and our nation’s, producers,” said Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers. “This was not an easy battle. I’ve been working with (Arkansas) Rep. Marion Berry and Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas since last November to get this assistance passed. Today, all of our hard work has finally started paying off.”

“This assistance isn’t everything we wanted. But I know Mississippi farmers are the backbone of our state, and I’m going to keep fighting now, and as the 2012 farm bill debate progresses, to make certain that the Mississippi agriculture industry has the resources it needs to create jobs and contribute to our economy.”

Note: Childers will hold a field meeting to discuss the disaster assistance on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will be held at the Verona Experiment Station Auditorium.

The following is a USDA document detailing what growers can expect from the disaster payments:

Background on 2009 Disaster Assistance

Due to losses suffered by cotton, rice, soybean, and sweet potato producers, USDA will provide some assistance to those farmers as soon as possible. Many producers have expressed significant concerns about the effectiveness of existing disaster programs in their states – particularly the Supplemental Revenue Assistance program (SURE) that was created in the 2008 farm bill. As such, USDA will now provide timely, targeted assistance by using Section 32 authorities and funds to make up to $550 million available for payments in Fiscal Year 2011.

Additionally, due to an integrator’s bankruptcy in the poultry industry that caused many individual producers to lose their contracts and livelihood, as well as high feed costs incurred by aquaculture producers, USDA will make available $80 million in Section 32 Fiscal Year 2010 funds to assist producers in the form of grants to states.

Under Section 32, the Secretary of Agriculture has long-standing authority to provide assistance to producers in order to re-establish their purchasing power, as well as to make purchases of fruits, vegetables and other commodities for domestic feeding programs. The secretary will utilize existing authorities that permit the Commodity Credit Corporation to make fruit, vegetable and other commodity purchases for domestic feeding programs normally made with Section 32 funds to ensure these programs are not negatively affected. Notably, Section 32 has been used 18 times since 1999 to provide disaster assistance to farmers to help restore purchasing power.