Ag leaders say producers need more federal help to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, as demand for aid far outstrips help already provided, and Congress tries to agree on new funding. Cattlemen, alone, say they’ve lost close to $14 billion, even before a major packing plant in Colorado and others, closed. The ethanol industry says it’s bleeding red ink daily, with half of plants closed or slowed. Corn prices have tanked. Dairymen are dumping milk. Vegetable growers are leaving crops in the field to rot.
So, what about the funding the USDA just announced?
“Farm Bureau and a lot of folks are viewing this as a first step or a first phase of assistance,” said American Farm Bureau’s Andrew Walmsley. “I think there’s a recognition that the resources and authorization that USDA currently have, probably won’t meet the needs that are out there.”
Lawmakers could vote this week on another $100 billion in help for hospitals and equipment, and more than $300 billion to replenish depleted funding for small business loans and grants.
“Hopefully, Congress can come together on something that has, obviously, a need,” Walmsley added. “It’s just unclear when that will happen. Hopefully, with this particular issue, will be addressed sooner, rather than later. And then, there’s always…I think folks are gearing up for a phase four package to address additional needs, as folks continue to assess what is needed out there.”
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