The latest pandemic relief bill is making its way through the legislative process. As part of the $1.9 trillion package, the House Agriculture Committee approved the Agriculture and Nutrition title of the bill. The Committee approved the proposal by a vote of 25-23. More than $16 billion would be allocated to provide support for the food and agriculture industry.
“We applaud the House Agriculture Committee for their efforts and urge the rest of the chamber to provide Americans with much-needed assistance by swiftly passing this bill,” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said in a news release. “This package includes a number of meaningful food and agricultural provisions that will help alleviate food insecurity, ensure the health and safety of food chain workers, expedite vaccinations in rural communities, lift up historically underserved farmers, and build resilience in the food system.”
The food and nutrition title includes $3.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support food supply chains. Funding would be used to help with the purchase of agricultural commodities for food banks and also help protect agricultural workers. A total of $500 million would go to the Community Facility Program to help rural communities get better access to COVID-19 vaccines. Overtime fee relief for small meat and poultry processors would be supported with $100 million.
The pandemic relief bill also includes support for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). A 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefits allowed would be extended through September 30. USDA would also be provided with $25 mill for the expansion of online SNAP investments. The bill also provides dedicated funding for debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers. More than $1 billion would be used to improve land access for Black, Indigenous, and farmers of color, as well as establish an equity commission.