In times of crisis, Mr. Rogers taught us to “look for the helpers.” Now, as the Coronavirus compromises industries nationwide, growers continue to face the day. They wake before dawn; seed, till, and plant until dark; and happily do it all again the next day.
We should look for the helpers, but we must help them in return.
As declining market prices threaten the farming industry, relief efforts are underway. President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a $2 trillion aid package, March 27. The CARES Act includes billions in provisions for farmers and agriculture workers.
Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) said, “The relief package will provide stability for our farmers and ensure the American people have a safe and stable food supply.”
Here are the Ag provisions according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) received $48.9 billion, including $14 billion toward its Commodity Credit Corp., which will directly aid producers, and $3 million toward USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
- The Office of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture received $9.5 billion, roughly 19% of the bill’s food and agriculture provisions. These funds will benefit specialty crop producers, livestock operations and those who supply local food systems such as farmers’ markets, restaurants and schools.
- Eligible farms and agricultural cooperatives may receive up to 2.5 times their yearly payroll costs in small business loans. To apply, submit a Payroll Protection Program loan application to your local bank by June 30, 2020. Visit Small Business Administration (SBA) for more information.
Agricultural organizations are also lending their support. The American Farmland Trust has set up a Farmer Relief Fund benefiting those impacted by the Coronavirus. The trust will award cash grants of up to $1,000 to each eligible farmer.