About $16.1 billion out of the $1.9 trillion total would be earmarked for ag
By Diego Flammini
The House Agriculture Committee has unveiled how it would use a portion of President Biden’s stimulus package to support the ag industry.
On Tuesday, the committee released the Agriculture and Nutrition title of the FY2021 Budget Reconciliation Bill.
The ag sector, if the bill passes, would receive $16.1 billion of support out of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package total.
The ag portion would amount to about 0.85 percent of the overall stimulus package.
This funding is necessary to ensure enough support is available for those who need it.
“In this current time of crisis for the American people, this language sees to it that we can provide assistance to our farmers, rural communities and the most vulnerable among us,” David Scott, chairman of the House Ag Committee, said in a statement.
Ag provisions in the bill include:
- Farm loan assistance for Black farmers and other farmers of color
- $500 million for the Community Facility Program to help rural hospitals and communities gain access to COVID-19 vaccines and food assistance
- $3.6 billion for the ag secretary to provide assistance to food supply chains
- $100 million in overtime fee relief to small meat and poultry processors navigating COVID-19 backlogs
The bill has received support from some industry groups.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, for example, views this bill as part of the administration’s commitment to helping the United States see the other side of the pandemic.
“Investments in reducing the costs necessary to help small plants and processors run at full capacity, making sure that farmers’ markets are up and running, and that farmers, processors, and market operators have resources to adapt to new market conditions and purchase PPE for themselves and their staff will ensure that farmers, ranchers, fishers, and other producers can get their goods to market and serve people in their community who continue to struggle,” Eric Deeble, policy director with the coalition, said in a statement.
The National Farmers Union also voiced its support for the bill.
“Individually, these objectives are certainly worthwhile, and collectively they will bring us several steps closer to a full recovery,” Rob Larew, president of the organization, said in a statement. 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.”
Members of the Republican Party are unhappy with the process surrounding the ag bill.
The Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, didn’t do enough to include their Republican counterparts, said Glenn Thompson, Republican leader on the ag committee.
“House Democrats made it explicitly clear (during the process) there was never any intention to reach across the aisle and that the collective voice of Rural America would be silenced,” he said in a Feb. 10 statement. In one breath, the Chairman and his members praised our amendments, and in the next, they voted against them. They love our ideas and think they are necessary to protect families and the vulnerable from COVID—just not enough to upset Speaker Pelosi’s budget power grab.”