CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – Representative Greg Walden says there are some important aspects to the Farm Bill that just passed the House.
The bill gives disaster relief for farmers who lost crops or livestock because of wildfires or drought, and farmers agreed it’s especially important with the conditions this year. While it gives financial assistance to counties, local leaders say a lot more could be done.
If passed the Farm Bill would reauthorize the Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, program. Last year, Jackson County received a little more than $750,000 from the PILT payments, which helped pay for law enforcement, roads, and public health.
If the farm bill is passed, the 2014 payment would be a little more, but the PILT program is offset by the secure rural schools payments, also called timber payments.
In other words, if one payment goes up, the other goes down. County leaders said it’s better than nothing, but Walden is supporting a bill to increase work on federal forest lands, to get rid of the need for payments.
“The counties are getting pretty frustrated with the stop and start nature of the limited funds we have been able to get,” said Walden.
Last year Oregon received a total of about 15 and a half million dollars in PILT payments, which was disbursed to all Oregon counties.
The Farm Bill has been sent over to the Senate for a vote, they are expected to vote on it next week.