Yesterday, Senate leadership introduced the Health Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. The HEALS Act is the latest in response to the COVID-19 national emergency and would provide an additional $20 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers and ranchers.
The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall:
“We are grateful to Leader McConnell and Senate Leadership for placing a high priority on bringing relief to America’s farmers and ranchers throughout this crisis. The additional $20 billion for agriculture in the HEALS Act would come at a critical time as the impact of this pandemic continues to hit our farms and rural communities.
“America’s farmers and ranchers and the men and women who work alongside us have answered the call as an essential industry in keeping our nation’s food supply secure. Farmers and ranchers have faced difficult decisions and shown great ingenuity and perseverance to keep their farms running, all while being met with steep challenges as markets and supply chains rapidly react to unprecedented changes. We all depend on our nation’s farms and ranches hanging on through this crisis.
“We look forward to continuing our work with Congress and the Administration to protect the well-being of our critical workforce, our rural communities and our country through a secure food supply.”
- The $20 billion has few restrictions and can be used “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers, growers, and processors impacted by coronavirus, including producers, growers, and processors of specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry, including livestock and poultry depopulated due to insufficient processing access and growers who produce livestock or poultry under a contract for another entity.”
- The bill allocates an additional $457 million to USDA to address other issues, including $245 million to make up for lost user fees due to the decline in agriculture inspection services and $113 million in rural rental assistance to low-wage residents.
- Senate leadership also introduced the Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act as part of the HEALS Act, which includes several of the technical changes to the Paycheck Protection Program supported by AFBF.