State, federal officials talk disaster relief with farmers

Image 1 of 9

A day after President Donald Trump signed a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill into law, state and federal leaders traveled to south Georgia to meet with farmers about what comes next.

Governor Brian Kemp, Senator David Perdue and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue held a round table event at Bart Davis' cattle, cotton, peanut and corn farm.

"It's not just the farmer, I mean, it's the rural economy," said Davis, who lost an estimated 60 percent of his cotton crop to Hurricane Michael last October. 

RELATED: Georgia lawmakers praise President Trump for signing disaster relief bill

As a whole, the state suffered more than $2 billion in agricultural losses as a result of that storm.  The bill sets aside $3 billion for agriculture, though both state and federal leaders expressed frustration with how long it took for the measure to move through Congress. 

"This is embarrassing and I apologize representing the United States Senate," said Sen. Perdue.  "This took eight months and that's ridiculous."

Previously, Perdue said, the longest it took Congress to approve a disaster relief package was after Hurricane Sandy in 2013.

Officials are not sure yet how much of the federal relief money will end up in Georgia, nor how they will be able to disperse it.  They hope to work with the federal government to come up with creative options to help farmers, especially those who grow pecans and timber, which do not have established programs.

"We have more work to do to continue to fight for flexibility," said Governor Kemp. 

RELATED: Congress finally sends $19B disaster aid bill to Trump