Clements: Earlier this week, the Senate introduced the Health Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools Act, or HEALS Act, which includes an additional $20 billion in relief funds for agriculture. Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director, says the funding expands much-needed relief across agriculture.
Walmsley: There’s not a lot of direction to USDA, which could be seen as good as making sure that the agency can be nimble in responding. But it also expands to include other sectors of the industry that have been left out of earlier versions. So, the money is obviously going to be helpful as we go into the fall.
Clements: AFBF estimates farm production losses due to the pandemic are nearly $50 billion. Walmsley says this new aid package will help struggling farmers.
Walmsley: When you combine the HEALS Act and the funding in the CARES Act, you’re looking at about $34 billion. So, if you include the $16 billion in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, you’re getting close to $50 billion, which has been in line with the request Farm Bureau has made to Congress to ensure that our farmers and ranchers can get through this crisis.
Clements: Walmsley encourages farmers and ranchers to visit fb.org/advocacy to show their support for the agriculture aid included in the HEALS Act.
Walmsley: This is far from being done. The negotiations are still ongoing between the House and Senate. But it’s important for farmers and ranchers to let Congress know how important this aid is, particularly the $20 billion that can be utilized to help producers continue to farm into another season.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.