The U.S. Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act over the weekend. The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill will head back to the U.S. House of Representatives for another vote. Lawmakers are hopeful the legislation will be signed by President Joe Biden by early next week. The Senate version of the legislation would be the second-largest stimulus bill in American history if it gets passed. The legislation includes substantial funding support for the agricultural industry.
“I am grateful to the U.S. Senate for passing the American Rescue Plan today to bring much-needed nutrition assistance and financial relief to millions of families struggling to pay the bills and put healthy food on the table,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “The bill not only boosts SNAP benefits through September, it also increases targeted nutrition assistance to mothers and young children and expedites more nutrition aid to U.S. territories. Farmers, business owners, and workers across the food supply chain will see additional assistance to respond to market disruption, as well.”
Funding from the legislation will be used for supporting small and medium-sized food processors and distributors respond to COVID issues. The legislation also includes at least $4 billion in debt relief for farmers of color through the inclusion of the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act. Funding support will also be used to purchase agricultural commodities from farmers and ranchers.
“We appreciate the American Rescue Plan’s prioritization of rural and agricultural issues,” said National Farmers Union President Rob Larew. “By building resilience across the food supply chain, supporting rural vaccine distribution, and offering historically disadvantaged farmers debt relief, this bill takes several steps towards more meaningful, enduring improvements. We commend the Senate for incorporating these important measures and encourage the House of Representatives to provide much-needed assistance by quickly approving this plan.”