GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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June 21, 2013

Tierney fisheries bid shot down in House

An amendment submitted by Congressman John Tierney to give commercial fishermen access to a U.S. Agriculture emergency disaster loan program had died in the U.S. House, though Tierney hopes it may still find sufficient support through a House-Senate reconciliation.

Tierney’s amendment, tacked onto the proposed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act — better known as the FARRM Bill — was aimed at making commercial fishermen eligible for the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Disaster Loan program, but went down on a vote of 211-215.

“Despite convincing 23 Republicans to vote in support of my amendment, we ran up against the real consequences of the Ryan Republican budget and sequestration,” said Tierney, whose district includes Gloucester and all of Cape Ann. “With deep cuts to federal programs being implemented, many Republicans are refusing to both restore funding for them and give our struggling commercial fishermen the same opportunity to apply for emergency disaster loans as farmers and ranchers.

“Fortunately, a similar amendment, introduced by Senator Cowan, was included in the Senate’s version of the farm bill, and with this close vote in the House, I am hopeful it will be retained in the House and Senate conference report,” Tierney said.

Two Cowan amendments that cleared overall votes in the Senate last week called for both granting fishermen eligibility for the USDA loan program, and for funding a new fisheries insurance study.

Tierney, who argued for the emergency loan program on the House floor Wednesday night, noted that the amendment would have amended the USDA’s Emergency Disaster Loan program to allow commercial fishermen to apply. The amendment would not have prioritized fishermen over farmers or ranchers or anyone else currently eligible for the USDA’s program; it only sought to give fishermen a fair shot at obtaining an emergency loan.

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