Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

COVID Package Includes Relief for Agriculture

News / Newsline December 21, 2020

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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.

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President-elect Joe Biden announced he will nominate Dr. Jewel Bronaugh to serve as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: “AFBF congratulates Dr. Jewel Bronaugh on her nomination to serve as USDA Deputy Secretary. Dr. Bronaugh’s work as Virginia’s Agriculture Commissioner and her previous experience as state director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency have established her as someone who understands the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers. We also appreciate the work she has done to address mental health issues in rural communities - a priority we hope she continues to pursue at the federal level. “Dr. Bronaugh’s nomination, as well as the nomination of Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture, shows President-elect Biden is carefully considering the challenges facing our nation’s farmers and ranchers. We look forward to working with the new leadership at USDA to ensure American agriculture continues to lead the world in growing safe, affordable food.” Virginia Farm Bureau President Wayne F. Pryor also commented on Dr. Bronaugh’s nomination: “Virginia Farm Bureau is proud to see Dr. Bronaugh nominated as USDA Deputy Secretary. The Commonwealth has been fortunate to benefit from Dr. Bronaugh’s leadership as VDACS Commissioner, State FSA Executive Director, and her roles at Virginia State University. She has done much to promote agriculture and address the many issues facing farm families and rural Virginia. Dr. Bronaugh will carry on this work in her new leadership role in Washington, D.C., and we support her swift confirmation”

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Farm Bureau delegates voted on policy priorities for 2021 at the conclusion of the American Farm Bureau Federation Virtual Annual Convention. Micheal Clements shares what issues top the list for the new year.

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