By Julia Johnson
Food and agriculture continues to be a priority for Congress and the Administration as the government tackles the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. After tense negotiations, the Senate passed a third stimulus bill late last night. Here is what is in it for food and agriculture.
Before the second coronavirus stimulus bill was passed, Congress and the Administration were anticipating the need for a third stimulus package. The Senate reached unanimous agreement and passed the package on Wednesday evening, March 25th. Here are the details regarding what is in the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill for food and agriculture.
The bill includes $48.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to the coronavirus. Lawmakers secured a $14 billion replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which uses funds to implement a variety of Agriculture programs established by Congress. The bill also includes $9.5 billion in disaster funds to provide support for specialty crop, livestock, and dairy producers, able to assist producers specifically with local sales.
For Child Nutrition Programs, the legislation contains $8.8 billion to respond to the coronavirus. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive $15.81 billion to fund SNAP provisions from the Phase Two coronavirus bill. $100 million of theses funds will be for food distribution on Native American reservation, $50 million is for facility improvements and equipment upgrades, and $200 million will be specifically for the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa. In addition, the Commodity Assistance Program will receive $450 million to provide food banks with additional resources for food distribution.
$45 million is provided for the Agriculture Marketing Service to ensure quality meat and produce reach the grocery store. The Food Safety and Inspection Service will receive an additional $33 million to respond to the virus, including support for temporary workers. The Farm Service Agency will also be receiving $3 million to increase their capacity as they work to meet demand from farmers impacted by the virus.
The Rural Business Program Account will receive more than $20 million for rural business development loans and contains provisions that make farmers and rural businesses eligible to receive up to $10 million in small business interruption loans from eligible lenders. $1 billion is made available in guaranteed loans to help rural businesses through the economic downturn, as well as $100 million to help rural communities get high-speed internet access.
The House is expected to vote on the legislation on Friday and the President has verbally expressed his support for the bill. OFW Law will continue to track this legislation and others that emerge as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. If you have any questions regarding what is in the bill and how it may impact your business, please contact us.