Washington – Today Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) led Representatives Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Susan Davis (CA-53), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Jim Costa (CA-16), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Judy Chu (CA-27), John Garamendi (CA-03), Karen Bass (CA-37), Ami Bera (CA-07), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Scott Peters (CA-52), Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Takano (CA-41), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Norma Torres (CA-35), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Lou Correa (CA-46), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), T.J. Cox (CA-21), Josh Harder (CA-10), Katie Hill (CA-25), Mike Levin (CA-49), Katie Porter (CA-45), and Harley Rouda (CA-48) in writing to House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey and Ranking Member Kay Granger requesting they ensure key 2017 disaster funding remain in the final Supplemental Appropriations Bill. The Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) allows emergency funding to be used to assist grapegrowers and other agricultural producers whose crops were damaged by wildfires or wildfire smoke. This provision is key for California small, family growers who lost their crops. A copy of the letter is below.
May 22, 2019
The Honorable Nita Lowey The Honorable Kay Granger
Chair Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
H-307 The Capitol 1026 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chair Lowey and Ranking Member Granger,
As the United States Senate prepares a supplemental disaster appropriation package, we urge you support and defend the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) funding for disasters in 2017. This funding was included in disaster legislation that passed the House of Representatives and we ask that it not be diverted for any other purpose in a final disaster supplemental agreement.
As you know, in 2017, California experienced what were, at the time, the most devastating fires in its history. Exasperated by longtime and widespread drought, the entire state felt the devastation and impact of the 2017 fire season. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, these wildfires burned nearly 1,381,405 acres in California, destroyed 9,470 structures, causing billions of dollars in damage, and, most tragically, took the lives of 47 people.
In the aftermath of any disaster, recovery is slow. In the case of these wildfires, the impacts are still being felt today. Natural disasters, like the wildfires of 2017, have proven especially damaging to agricultural producers, including growers in California.
The WHIP program was originally established in the aftermath of 2017 disasters, and provided crucial assistance to agricultural producers whose harvests were destroyed or tainted by wildfires - including grapegrowers, whose grapes were tainted by wildfire smoke and rendered useless.
As thousands of Americans continue the arduous process of rebuilding their lives, it is imperative that the federal government provide critical assistance to those affected, including the agricultural community. Funding of 2017 WHIP assistance is essential to those recovering from, among other disasters, the Tubbs, Nuns, Thomas, Atlas, and Redwood Valley Complex wildfires.
We therefore ask that you defend the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) funding for disasters in 2017 and ensure that it not be diverted for any other purpose in a final disaster supplemental agreement.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to working with you to ensure the inclusion of this vital provision. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance.