The $2 trillion coronavirus aid package negotiated by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and agreed to by Senate leaders and the White House on Wednesday will help ensure farmers and ranchers are able to continue feeding America in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
The impact of COVID-19 on agriculture includes an unanticipated decline in commodity prices, a lack of new H-2A workers to the U.S., 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.
The agreement is reported to include a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation, consistent with a long history of the CCC being tapped to responsibly support agriculture in times of crisis. There will also be $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators.
In a statement, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said the following:
“Thanks to Leader McConnell and all the senators who diligently fought for farmers and ranchers to ensure they have our backs in the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. 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.
“America’s farmers and ranchers face enormous volatility as markets and supply chains rapidly react to changes, but I’ll say again that farmers and ranchers will not let Americans down. All members of Congress must understand that farmers have almost no control over the prices of the goods we produce, so fulfilling our commitment to America requires a team effort.
“We urge swift passage and will continue working with Congress and the Administration to ensure there are sufficient resources to assist farmers, ranchers, rural communities and those in need in these very trying times.”
Forty-eight agriculture groups joined Farm Bureau in calling on Congress to expand USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation. Read the letter here.