The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act that cleared Congress last week includes billions of dollars directed at helping rural communities and agriculture through the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director said the $2 trillion bill is unprecedented.
“One of the key provisions for a lot of folks is the recovery rebates where there will actually be cash payments out to individuals, $1200 per individual and $2,400 per couple, and that increases by $500 per child. Really unprecedented in the history of this country, but we’re also living in unprecedented times.”
Walmsley said the relief package includes several provisions for rural America, including rural health.
“We know a lot of our rural hospitals are already strained, but with the potential for being overwhelmed with cases of coronavirus, there is some direct support to those rural hospitals,” Walmsley said. There’s also some additional funding through USDA for telehealth and telemedicine. And then there’s for rural businesses and communities, some through the Small Business Administration, others through USDA, but hundreds of millions of dollars that will be soon available for those impacted by this pandemic.”
The bill also includes more than $15 billion for nutrition programs, and relief for farmers and ranchers.
“The bill replenishes the Commodity Credit Corporation,” Walmsley continued. “This is a USDA program that authorizes funding for the department to adapt to different crisis’s. That replenishes it by $14 billion. And then there’s a specific $9.5 billion for the Secretary to utilize in COVID-19 response to help all of agriculture, specifically targeting specialty crop growers, those that are growing in the local food markets, dairy and livestock producers.”
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