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New bill aims to reimburse farmers for property damage

New bill aims to reimburse farmers for property damage

The legislation would use unobligated money from the American Rescue Plan to support farmers

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A new bill introduced in Congress would support producers who experienced property damage because of mass migration.

Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Republican Rep. August Pfluger (TX-11) and other Texas representatives tabled H.R. 4896 on July 30.

The resolution directs the Secretary of Agriculture to “establish a program to provide reimbursement to agricultural producers for losses sustained due to illegal immigration.”

Funding for such a program would come from the American Rescue Plan.

The legislation would direct about $300 million of unused funds from the plan to help producers offset property damage repair costs.

Farmers shouldn’t have to bear responsibility for property damages they didn’t cause, Rep. Gonzalez said.

“When fencing on ranch land is cut due to increased migration, it takes a serious financial toll on South Texas farmers and ranchers,” he said in a statement. “I support this bipartisan bill to reimburse these landowners and ensure they have the necessary funds to restore their property. We must continue working together to address the root causes of migration to prevent these incidents from happening.”

Farmers have expressed property damage concerns this year because of illegal immigration.

On Aug. 2, Brent Smith, a Texas rancher from Kinney County told Fox & Friends his property sustained about $60,000 worth of damage because of people trespassing through his farm and insurance companies are likely to present landowners with the bill when damage does occur.

“If it’s a stolen vehicle that goes through the property their vehicle insurance isn’t going to pay for it and ours won’t either, so the landowners are stuck paying for this,” he said.

In May, farmers told Border Report about instances of crop damage or even having to provide care for migrants who became ill drinking dirty water.

Industry groups support the bill.

Farmers along the Texas-Mexico border face unique challenges compared to producers in other states.

“These hardworking families are enduring additional costs due to cut fences, vandalized property, stolen equipment and more,” Russell Boening, president of the Texas Farm Bureau, said in a statement. “While a long-term fix to our nation’s border crisis is desperately needed, this assistance will help struggling producers in the meantime.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also supports the legislation.

“As stewards of large sections of the Southern Border, ranchers suffer a disproportionate share of the burden associated with illegal border crossings,” Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in a statement. “We are extremely grateful to (the representatives) for their bipartisan support for ranchers whose land and livelihood have been harmed by the border crisis.”

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