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Agriculture Could be Left Out of Next Stimulus Package

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke by phone last week with Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an attempt to resurrect failed talks around a stimulus bill. Mnuchin says there are areas of agreement.

“Oh, I believe there’s enormous agreement on the PPP. I think there’s an agreement on money for schools, there may be a difference as to what it is. There’s an agreement on enhanced unemployment, going forward, there may be a slight disagreement on what the amount is, in calculation, I think there’s been an agreement on direct payments, as I mentioned earlier, there was even an agreement on postal.”

But Mnuchin, Pelosi, and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer remain far apart on top-line numbers. Senate Republicans are set to vote on a slimmed down stimulus bill that would provide more money for schools, widespread liability protections, and restructured unemployment benefits. The price tag could fall closer to $500-$700 billion instead of the $2.2 trillion Democrats are asking for, and it could exclude agriculture.

“Unfortunately, Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi do not want to sit down at the negotiating table, unless we publicly agree on a top line. My own opinion is we should go piece by piece, and any area of the legislation we can agree on, we should have the House and the Senate pass.”

House Democrats included some agriculture aid in their HEROES Act, which the Senate GOP never took up. Senate Republicans included $20 billion in direct agriculture aid in their latest proposed bill, while USDA continues to distribute some $34 billion under the earlier CARES Act.

Source: NAFB News Service