by Jacqui Fatka | FarmProgress.com
The Senate advanced by a vote of 96-0 its Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in a vote late Wednesday night in the third tranche of assistance offered by Congress as it attempts to respond to the economic fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19). For farmers, the final $2 trillion package includes some specific requests, such as additional lending authority to for the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) and livestock and disaster assistance.
The COVID-19 impact on agriculture includes a rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closure of ethanol plants, the dramatic decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand and the reduction in direct-to-consumer sales.
Ahead of the final deal, 48 agriculture groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, joined together in calling on Congress to expand the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s borrowing authority under the CCC. The agreement includes a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the CCC, consistent with a long history of the CCC being tapped to responsibly support agriculture in times of crisis, and $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators.
“The aid to farmers in this package, including funding for the CCC and the Office of the Secretary, will allow USDA to begin crafting an appropriate relief program for agriculture,” American Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall said.
The bill also includes direct payments to individuals ($1,200 per individual or $2,400 per married couple), $130 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for local and state governments and $300 billion in financial aid for small businesses. Additionally, it allocates funding for nutrition assistance programs, rural broadband and rural health resources.
Relief for farmers and ranchers
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