Five members of the Mississippi delegation in Washington D.C. recently wrote a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on behalf of Mississippi farmers.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Sen. Roger Wicker, Rep. Gregg Harper, Rep. Steven Palazzo and Rep. Trent Kelly requested Perdue consider all options within his authority to afford Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) eligibility to Mississippi watermelon and sweet potato growers who experienced losses from natural disasters during 2017.

According to the letter Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall on June 22, 2017, and produced more than 18 inches of rainfall over portions of southeastern Mississippi.

“The timing of the storm combined with unprecedented amounts of rain resulted in devastating losses to watermelon producers in the area,” the letter stated.

In August 2017,  Mississippi experienced heavy rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey which harmed many sweet potato crops, according to the letter.

“While producers were not prevented from harvesting, they were unaware of the extent to which the harvested crop had rotted,” the letter stated. “Further deterioration while in storage due to moisture damages incurred prior to harvest resulted in an unmarketable crop having a zero value for many Mississippi growers.”

In addition to stating the reasons Mississippi needs WHIP assistance, the letter also explained several ways these losses would qualify under WHIP assistance.

“The joint explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 clarifies that it was the intent of Congress that the Secretary consider the views of all producers who suffered losses in calendar year 2017 in determining eligibility for assistance provided in Title I of Public Law 115-123. We respectfully request that you take this into consideration in reviewing potential options to extend WHIP assistance to impacted watermelon and sweet potato growers in Mississippi,” the letter stated.

The letter is posted below.

MS Delegation Letter to Secretary Perdue