After passage by Congress, President Donald J. Trump signed the $2.2 trillion emergency economic relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, on Friday, March 27. Part of the bill helps farmers and ranchers during the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 has lowered commodity prices for farmers and ranchers, increased volatility at ethanol plants and caused a decline or temporary closure of restaurants and school lunch programs nationwide.
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall urged Congress and the president to sign this act quickly, fearing repercussions to producers.
"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," Duvall said in a release.
The legislation provides $9.5 billion for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to provide support to farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19, including livestock producers. It also includes an additional $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation to address low commodity prices and trade disruptions.
In addition, the legislation includes $100 million in ReConnect grants to expand access to broadband in rural America for educational purposes, business and access to telehealth services.
Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts, like Duvall, was pleased with the results.
"The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed by the House today and the Senate earlier this week helps ensure Kansas farmers and ranchers are able to continue feeding the world in addition to providing much-needed relief to rural communities and hospitals," Felts said. "While the price tag is tough to swallow, I’m pleased to see Congress has taken quick and unprecedented action to mitigate some of the fallout from the necessary practice of social distancing."
Perdue, who must implement part of this bill, said this legislation provides much-needed relief to Americans across this country.
"At USDA, we will deliver relief assistance to farmers and ranchers as quickly as possible," Perdue said in a release. "At USDA, we are doing our part to ensure those who need help will get it, whether it’s through nutrition assistance, ensuring the food supply chain is safe and secure, or through new flexibilities with our Rural Development loan programs."
U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall voted for the bill.
"Times are tough for everyone right now, but with low commodity prices and slowed access to markets, our farmers and ranchers continue to bear the brunt of the hardship," Marshall said. "I was pleased to support the bill passed by the House and signed into law by President Trump today that included $23.5 billion in aid to farmers and ranchers, as well as marketing loan relief that will allow our producers to continue to produce the highest quality, safest and most affordable food on the planet."
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said he worked to get farmers and ranchers’ needs into this bill.
"After several years of declining farm income, the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt another blow to agricultural producers and the rural economy," Moran said. "Over the past couple weeks, I worked to make certain this legislation provides resources to support Kansas farmers and ranchers facing market challenges due to COVID-19, especially our cattle producers who are facing unprecedented market volatility."