US NFU hails additional aid for farmers and stronger protections for workers
The Cattle Site
18 May 2020
The US House of Representatives has passed a $3 trillion relief and stimulus bill, shoring up state responses and assistance amid COVID-19
Amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the US House of Representatives today passed a $3 trillion relief and stimulus bill, known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The legislation would provide funding for health services, state and local governments, housing assistance, infrastructure, the US Postal Service (USPS), stimulus checks for taxpayers, nutrition assistance, and agricultural economic disaster relief.
While National Farmers Union (NFU) was encouraged that the previous stimulus bill – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – offered much-needed immediate relief to family farmers and rural communities coping with the ripple effects of the pandemic, the organisation cautioned that it only scratched the surface of what will ultimately be required to keep family farms in business and ensure national food security.
In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew thanked Congress for continuing its efforts to support the agriculture sector and renewed his earlier calls for a broader reform of the food system:
“These are trying times for family farmers and ranchers. After struggling through many years of low prices, trade disputes, and bad weather, our nation’s food producers are now contending with yet more difficulties. The pandemic has depressed prices even further, upended agricultural markets, backed up processing and distribution, and dramatically altered demand, all of which is putting immense pressure on farmers of every shape and size.
“The HEROES Act would do a great deal to alleviate these pressures. 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. We are similarly heartened by provisions that would strengthen farmer mental health resources, extend employer-sponsored health care coverage, expand nutrition assistance programmes, and assist biofuel plants. As rural communities cope with widespread unemployment, a growing rate of coronavirus cases, and underfunded medical facilities, all of these changes are urgently important and greatly appreciated...