Last week, the United States Senate passed the new five-year Farm Bill, known technically as the Agricultural Act of 2014, on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Its passage thereby assured a one-year extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program along with retroactive disaster relief from the past two years.
The bill next moves on to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.
The federal PILT program provides vital federal funding that offsets property tax losses due to non-taxable federal lands within local governments’ jurisdictions. As Lake County features a majority of these lands within its boundaries, these funds are an important part of the County’s operating budget. Funds received benefit local schools, county roads and other local services.
Included in the bill was renewal of disaster relief programs that included retroactive relief for disasters that occurred in 2012 and 2013, such as the Barry Point Fire near Lakeview, which consumed some 90,000 acres in the summer of 2012.
These programs provide crucial support to farmers and ranchers that suffered damages from drought as well as wildfire, and expired in 2011. Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley fought for their renewal of the programs, which included:
*a livestock forage disaster program that covers forage and grazing losses on private and federally leased land due to drought and fire
*livestock indemnity program, which covers livestock deaths on private or federal land
*emergency assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish program, covers losses not otherwise covered by other programs
*tree assistance program, which provides payment to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to cover 70 percent of costs for replanting or stocking nurseries following a disaster.