(Seattle, WA) – In a victory for rain-battered Eastern Washington farmers, U.S. Senator Patty Murray today announced that the federal Risk Management Agency (RMA) has adopted her proposal to help farmers as they bring their rain-damaged crops to market.
The announcement comes just four days after Murray urged the agency to make the change in a letter RMA Director Ross Davidson.
"Farmers told me they needed help so on Monday I asked the Risk Management Agency to take immediate action. Today they did and help is on the way," Murray said. "This change will save farmers and elevator operators time and will make sure small producers are not saddled with higher sampling fees and delays."
On Monday (August 30th), Murray wrote to RMA Director Ross Davidson asking him to allow rain-damaged crop samples to be graded in larger groups or lots, rather than by individual sample, which takes more time and penalizes smaller producers.
Today, RMA Regional Director Dave Paul notified Senator Murray's office that the agency is switching the procedures for sampling and grading damaged crops. Before, the agency required each load to be graded individually. Now, the agency will grade composite samples by lot, which is the faster, fairer method Murray had advocated.
"While this is a victory, the federal government needs to do more to help farmers by declaring Spokane and Whitman disaster counties and revising federal crop insurance discounts to more accurately reflect the market," Murray said. "I hope the Administration will be as responsive to those request as they were to this one."
Nine days ago (August 25th), Murray wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, urging her to designate storm-battered Spokane and Whitman counties as Secretarial Disaster counties, which would make farmers there eligible for low-interest loans. Murray is still awaiting a response from Secretary Veneman.
Murray had also asked RMA Administrator Davidson to revise discount schedules for damaged crops to better reflect market realities. Davidson has not yet responded to that request.
If any disaster assistance proposal comes before the Senate, Murray will work to ensure that Washington state producers are included.