(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) today introduced the Shellfish Equity Act, which will add shellfish to the list of eligible crops that are covered by two disaster relief programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. During Tropical Storm Irene, shellfish farmers along the Connecticut coastline were adversely affected, yet were ineligible to receive disaster assistance from the Department of Agriculture. The Shellfish Equity Act would address that inequality. Connecticut’s shellfish industry supports an estimated 300 jobs and generates $30 million in sales each year.
Blumenthal said, “Our shellfish industry – severely damaged by Irene – deserves and needs the assistance that all other farmers receive, so they can recover and rebuild. This measure would treat shellfish farmers on par with other agricultural producers, and ensure that they have the same eligibility for emergency aid. Their recovery is important to Eastern Connecticut and our entire coastline.”
“Connecticut’s shellfish farmers have long played an important role in our state’s economy, and it is heartbreaking that their crops were hit so hard by Hurricane Irene,” Lieberman said. “This bill will provide these men and women the same disaster assistance protections that others in the agriculture industry already receive, and we will work with our colleagues to enact this legislation as soon as possible.”
The disaster relief programs are:
· USDA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program that helps farmers whose crops are not eligible for traditional crop insurance. When low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters, the NAP program provides financial assistance to the affected farmers.
· USDA’s Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, & Farm-raised Fish, or ELAP. ELAP covers losses to a farmer’s livestock, honeybees, or farm-raised aquaculture due to natural disasters.