WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) called on his colleagues to support Vermont farmers, families and communities by passing supplemental disaster aid and replenishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund.
“We’ve got to get that FEMA supplemental passed. While that $16 billion of FEMA’s disaster relief fund is critical, [we in] the Vermont delegation, as I mentioned, are pushing for more,” said Sen. Welch during his remarks. “…We need to increase FEMA’s cap for hazard mitigation. We need to make small business loans forgivable. If you’re a small business and you just implemented a plan to expand and you borrowed money from the bank in order to do it, you can’t afford to take out more loans. It’s really essential that we make it possible for folks to get grants – these businesses that are so critical to our communities rather than saddle our small businesses with more debt. We also need to expand the USDA’s emergency grant relief program for our farmers…Even if the world has moved on for other parts of the country, Vermont still needs help.”
In his remarks, Senator Welch discussed the extreme hardships faced by Vermont’s farmers during the flood, highlighting the damage to three Vermont farms: Conant Riverside Farm in Richmond, the Paul Mazza Fruit and Vegetable Farm in Essex Junction, and the Foote Brook Farm in Johnson. He called for a disaster supplemental package that expands U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency grant relief programs and assistance to farmers.
He also referenced President Coolidge’s Vermont is a State I Love speech, which was given 95 years ago this week as the Coolidge, a Vermonter, toured Vermont following the floods of 1927:
“He nicknamed the state a ‘Brave Little State’ – and that’s who we are in Vermont. That term was his recognition of the indomitable spirit that our people in Vermont have to pick themselves up, to pull together, and to rebuild. Nearly a century later, we experienced another devastating flood. What we experienced in July and August was nothing short of catastrophic,” said Sen. Welch.
Watch the full speech here:
Earlier this month, the Vermont Delegation, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Rep. Becca Balint (VT-AL) called on Congressional majority and minority leadership and Appropriations Committee leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives to pass federal funding for essential recovery and long-term disaster mitigation work in Vermont following the summer’s flooding. Read more here.
Senator Welch is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy.