House Votes to Double Coronavirus Payments to Agriculture

The National Farmers Union and the National Corn Growers Associate Applaud Passage of the Latest Coronavirus Bill

 

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

Agriculture.com - 5/18/2020

 

Senate Republicans will ignore the “unserious” $3-trillion coronavirus relief bill passed along party lines by the House in favor of steps such as liability shields for employers, said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The House bill included $16.5 billion for cash payments to farmers and ranchers, double the amount in the package now awaiting approval by the White House budget office.

 

The bill, passed on a 208-199 roll call on Friday, also calls for a temporary 15% increase in SNAP benefits and allots more than $4 billion for other public nutrition programs. It would waive work requirements for SNAP recipients and block the USDA from implementing three regulations that would narrow eligibility for food stamps.

 

“Now the House Democrats have presented our proposal to lead to negotiation,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter to Democratic colleagues over the weekend. Pelosi said Republicans were wrong in suggesting a “pause” in congressional action. After criticizing the House for an “unserious product,” McConnell called for increased testing for the coronavirus nationwide and “legal liability protections so that K-12 schools, universities, charities, and employers are not invaded by trial lawyers the instant they unlock their doors.”

 

The National Farmers Union and the National Corn Growers Association applauded passage of the latest coronavirus bill. “Of particular importance is an additional $16.5 billion in direct support to affected farmers, which should help prevent the closure of thousands of family-owned operations,” said NFU president Rob Larew.” We are similarly heartened by provisions that would strengthen farmer mental health resources, extend employer-sponsored health care coverage, expand nutrition assistance programs, and assist biofuel plants.

 

It may be several weeks before the Senate acts on coronavirus legislation, said three American Farm Bureau Federation economists. “Any action in the Senate will require bipartisan support. As a result, it is very likely that provisions in this bill could be changed or eliminated in the coming weeks,” they wrote.

 

The Trump administration has proposed $16 billion in cash payments, with livestock producers to get $9.6 billion of it, according to unofficial descriptions. Agriculture Undersecretary Bill Northey said...

 

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