After days of negotiating, the U.S. Senate finally reached an agreement and passed a coronavirus stimulus bill which will aid in the economic recovery of the country as it deals with a significant slowdown due to COVID-19. The Senate bill draft reportedly provides for $14 billion in replenished funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The legislation also includes an additional $9.5 billion for assisting livestock operations and specialty crop producers who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. In a letter addressed to Senate leaders, agricultural groups which included the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Dairy Coalition, and the National Cotton Council, highlighted the need to support American farmers and ranchers.
“Millions of producers will need help with cash flow given the rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closure of ethanol processing plants, the effective elimination of direct-to-consumer sales and decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand,” the letter stated. “Congress must have farmers’ and ranchers’ backs by expanding and replenishing USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).”
The appropriations package in the bill that would allow USDA more borrowing authority to respond to issues created by COVID-19 concerns was a sticking point between parties in the Senate. The CCC is what is used to provide assistance to American farmers and ranchers under the Market Facilitation Program. The coronavirus stimulus bill will cost nearly $2 trillion which will be dispersed through provisions for supporting health care efforts, cash payments to individuals and financial assistance for transportation and small businesses.
The bill will now be moving to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is unknown how House members will receive some of the provisions in the legislation. House Democrats have also been working a competing stimulus bill that provides an additional $450 million for food banks and additional assistance for food stamp recipients.