Washington – Today Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) voted to pass H.R. 5305, a critical government funding bill that includes his bill to reauthorize and fund the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) for 2020 and 2021 natural disasters. Thompson led the introduction of the WHIP+ Reauthorization Act in January 2021 and has championed it since, as he works to assist people in his district hit hard by the LNU Lightning Complex and Glass Fires in 2020. His bill would reactivate the WHIP+ program, a critical lifeline for agricultural producers whose crops were ruined by smoke. President Biden is expected to sign this bill into law by the end of the day.
“Sadly, our district has been hit over and over by natural disasters, from devastating fires to one of the worst droughts in the last 50 years. These fires created terrible conditions for agricultural producers whose crops were ruined by smoke damage and need help as they recover,” said Thompson. “That’s why I have been working since the start of this Congress to pass my bill that reactivates the WHIP+ program to get critical Federal payments out to farmers whose crops were ruined by disasters, such as our recent fires. I’m proud to see this bill pass the House today and head to President Biden’s desk where it will be signed into law!”
“With the reauthorization of the WHIP+ program, California farmers who suffered crop losses from the 2020 wildfires and floods are moving closer to being made whole. This legislation would not have been reinstated without Congressman Thompson’s relentless effort,” said Tawny Tesconi, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. “For our local farmers, the Congressman ensured that smoke taint losses were specifically addressed in the bill, a big win for our County’s robust winegrape growing industry.”
“Known for our world-class wines and commitment to cultivating excellence, the Napa Valley is a small place with a big impact. When natural disasters occur, the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP+) is a critical economic recovery tool for our agricultural community,” said Linda Reiff, President & CEO of the Napa Valley Vintners. “We are very grateful to Congressman Thompson and his colleagues for their work to reactivate the WHIP+ program, which helps support everyone working hard in the vineyards and wineries and strengthens the resiliency of our treasured wine community.”
“Our Sonoma County grape growers appreciate how hard Congressman Thompson works to support our local farmers,” said Steve Dutton, Partner and Grower at Dutton-Goldfield. “He is relentless in ensuring his peers understand the importance of this program and funding to preserve local agriculture and our family farmers.”
“As a long term local grapegrower, I know far too well the devastating impact that fires have on growers like us. Smoke damage can devastate an entire year of production and really hurt the financial future of an entire vineyard,” said Andy Beckstoffer, Owner of Beckstoffer Vineyards. “That’s why I’m grateful that Congressman Thompson has been so focused on reactivating the WHIP+ program and I’m so happy to see his bill signed into law today. This will go a long way to helping grapegrowers like me recover from the 2020 fires and continue producing the world-class wines for which our district is renowned.”
“The passage of WHIP+ is another example of Congressman Thompson’s commitment to helping Agriculture remain sustainable during disastrous events,” said Mike Sangiacomo, Partner at Sangiacomo Family Wines.
“Reactivation of the WHIP+ program is essential towards assisting California wine grape growers to partially recover from the disastrous effects of the 2020 wildfires which caused damage to vineyards, wineries and wines that many of us had never encountered before,” said Napa Valley Grapegrower Ernie Weir. “The resulting hardships have caused some to close their business and lose their livelihoods and others to hang on as best they can until some form of financial relief becomes available. We thank Congressman Thompson for his support and leadership in this effort to reactivate this program.”
Thompson introduced the WHIP+ Reauthorization Act in January 2021 with bipartisan support from Members of Congress up and down the West Coast in districts hit hard by disasters. The bill was then marked up and advanced by the House Agriculture Committee in July 2021. The bill then passed the House on September 21, 2021 as part of a government funding bill that was amended by the Senate and sent back to the House.
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