Kerry Proposes Fisherman Amendment

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry recently proposed a series of amendments to the 2012 Farm Bill that would make it easier for commercial anglers and fish farms to obtain disaster funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Current Farm Service Agency policies provide disaster relief and disaster loans to qualified farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers. While farmers raising livestock are included in these ranks, commercial anglers are not, limiting their ability to recoup their losses in the case of a major disaster (like last year’s Hurricane Irene).

Kerry’s amendment would expand part of the 2012 Farm Bill’s Emergency Disaster Loan program.

In a statement to the press, Kerry claimed that, “Fishing in Massachusetts means tens of thousands of jobs and our fishermen are literally the farmers of the ocean. Fishermen across the nation risk their lives every day to put food on America’s kitchen table.” He further urged that Congress treat fishermen like other farmers or agricultural producers. Members of the New England Fishery Management Council echoed Kerry’s statement, arguing that, “We should be with the farmers. We’ve been saying that for years. Fishing should be under the Department of the Interior along with agriculture and not be under the Commerce Department.”

The reaction from New England anglers has been overwhelmingly positive. With increased access to federal farm credit, fishermen would be able to buy better equipment and increased fishing quotas, allowing them to significantly increase their profits.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer