The American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on lawmakers to provide additional resources for farmers impacted by the COVID-19 food system shockwave. AFBF says farmers need more help to mitigate losses and they’re asking Congress to assist rural communities. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program helps, but more is needed in farm country.
“The first round was desperately needed by farmers,” Duvall said. “It covered the losses up to mid-April and that does not address everything that’s happening to our farmers because that pandemic, the shockwave of it continues to hit agriculture. So, we definitely need to be part of another package. Farmers have witnessed some of their markets shrinking in just a short period of time and even in some cases, disappeared.”
Duvall says farmers need an extension of relief funds for losses that occurred after April 15, among other needs.
“We’d like to see them replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation funding. The cap on the funding right now is $30 billion, but that was changed many, many years ago, and now we think that same dollar should be 68 billion. We also are looking at the problems around poultry. Most of the poultry industry is vertically integrated and it was not able to be covered under the CFAP because those producers don’t own the animals.”
And rural communities need more assistance, including broadband, the Paycheck Protection Program, and rural medical centers.
“With what’s happened in our communities and the demand for those health centers to pay attention to the COVID-19 and a lot of the other procedures are put off have put them in a financial bind.”
Duvall added an expanded PPP program is needed to reach more of the farmers with a workforce.