On Tuesday, Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers met with state producers at the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Verona to discuss the recent release of much-needed disaster assistance for farmers hit hard by last fall’s heavy rains. At the meeting, Childers was joined by representatives from the USDA and the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Over the past year, Childers has led the way to secure those funds. Last week, USDA finally announced the availability of $550 million in crop assistance funding, as well as $80 million in aquaculture and poultry assistance.

“Over the past year, I’ve held various meetings concerning disaster assistance with members of the Mississippi Farm Bureau, the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, and other producers throughout the First District and the state. Today, after a long upward battle, I was proud to meet with Mississippi producers to announce good news,” said Childers. “This assistance isn’t everything we wanted, but it’s a start. I would like to express my gratitude to Mississippi’s producers for their hard work throughout this upward battle. We would not be half the state we are without our agriculture industry, and I will keep working to secure the assistance our producers need to continue creating jobs and contributing to our economy.”

Childers is the only member of the Mississippi delegation on the House Agriculture Committee.

In November 2009, Childers sent letters urging USDA Secretary Vilsack and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to act quickly in gathering the information necessary to provide disaster-hit counties with assistance. Subsequently, 79 of Mississippi’s 82 counties – including all 24 counties in the First District – were granted primary disaster designations.

In December, Childers and Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry introduced H.R. 4177 to provide timely disaster assistance to producers facing severe crop loss from last fall’s excessive rainfall and drought. Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

In addition, Childers led a district-wide crop disaster tour with USDA Deputy Under-Secretary Michael Scuse to show the USDA the severity of last year’s crop losses, as well as the level of assistance hard-hit counties needed in order to recover.

Childers has also held various meetings concerning disaster assistance with members of the Mississippi Farm Bureau, the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, and other producers throughout the First District and the state.