Merkley, Wyden Announce Relief for Oregon in Bipartisan Disaster Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the $19.1 billion bipartisan disaster package passed by the Senate includes relief for Oregon agriculture affected by severe wildfires and storms, as well as a provision to require the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to make crop insurance available to hemp farmers, and $720 million to address fire borrowing.

“One of the reasons I wanted to be on the Senate Appropriations Committee was to make sure that Oregon’s interests were represented in Congress, and this disaster bill is a meaningful example of why that’s so important,” Merkley said. “With a voice from Oregon at the table, this disaster relief bill includes significant support for producers across the West who were affected by wildfires, such as Oregon winegrowers; help for those affected by severe winter storms, including Oregon hazelnut growers; and millions of dollars to replenish Forest Service programs that were raided in 2018 to pay for fire suppression. Today’s bill is a big win for Oregon and communities across the West.”

“Oregon’s farmers and growers feel the brunt of the catastrophic wildfires and severe storms that hit our state. I’m glad that our winegrowers and hazelnut producers will get the relief they need and that wildfire prevention funds will be replenished to help stop such destruction in the first place,” Wyden said. “This is also a welcome win for Oregon’s hemp producers. Now that hemp production is legal, there should be no question about hemp farmers access to crop insurance.”

The $19.1 billion bill includes $3 billion to compensate producers for storms occurring in 2018 and 2019, including $3 million for winegrowers whose grapes were affected by wildfire smoke, and upward of $11 million for hazelnut growers whose crops were damaged in severe storms.

The bill also includes $720 million for the U.S. Forest Service to repay non-fire suppression accounts that were raided to pay for wildfires in 2018.

In addition, the bill requires the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to make crop insurance available to hemp farmers. Merkley, Wyden, and Kentucky senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul worked together to fully legalize hemp in the 2018 farm bill. As the hemp industry expands, crop insurance will continue to put hemp on equal footing with other agricultural commodities.