The last-minute COVID-19 relief package recently passed by Congress includes some much-needed assistance for agriculture. Micheal Clements shares what the $13 billion bill has to offer for farmers and ranchers.
Clements: American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director Scott Bennett says a recently-passed spending bill provides $13 billion to USDA, with $11.2 billion provided to the Agriculture Secretary to support producers, processors and contract growers.
Bennett: Contract livestock growers will now be able to recover 80 percent of their losses caused by canceled or delayed orders. And we’ve also seen specialty and non-specialty crop growers receive through this round of aid $20 per planted acre. The markets for these crops disappeared overnight when the pandemic hit, and while many of these markets have recovered, the losses from earlier in the year continue to take their toll on farm families.
Clements: Additionally, specialty crop producers will be able to include crop insurance payments and disaster payments in their 2019 sales calculation, providing a more accurate picture of farm income. Bennett says the bill also renews the Paycheck Protection Program.
Bennett: Small farmers continue to be hit hard by the pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program, that money is a lifeline to keep families afloat, and we were excited to see that extended in this bill.
Clements: Bennett says AFBF welcomes the much-needed relief package.
Bennett: We’re pleased that Congress understands that there’s been a toll that this pandemic has continued to take on farmers, ranchers and rural America. This round of assistance, it addresses losses suffered by farmers who were forced to euthanize livestock prematurely with no market and therefore no income, and that includes contract growers. We’re pleased that the bill provides additional help for specialty and non-specialty crop growers. And the Paycheck Protection Program will help small farmers continue operating.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.