Last week, Representatives Dan Newhouse, Jimmy Panetta, Jim Costa and others led 70 colleagues writing a bipartisan letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and the USDA, calling on him to spend specific funding to protect Ag workers. The letter calls on Perdue to make at least $1.5 billion of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 available to farm owners and operators in the form of grants and loans to take needed COVID-19 safety steps and protocols. Newhouse said the central Washington Ag community was hit hard by COVID-19, and farmers need a little help from the USDA to keep workers safe.
“It doesn’t come cheap, and so the funds necessary to make sure that our farmers and ranchers can provide that safe workplace is absolutely necessary.”
Newhouse added during this pandemic, it’s become very evident how essential farm workers are.
“Keeping food on the table for people throughout the country through this pandemic is absolutely important. And we can’t do that if we don’t have a workforce.”
Newhouse added he and other lawmakers worked hard to include federal funding to ensure Ag workers stay safe, and now the government must deliver.
Others from the Northwest signing this week’s letter include:
Oregon: Cliff Bentz; Earl Blumenauer; Kurt Schrader
Washington: Cathy McMorris Rodgers; Suzan DelBene; Pramila Jayapal; Kim Schrier
Idaho: Mike Simpson
Click Here to read the entire letter sent to the USDA.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 directed the Secretary of Agriculture to use at least $1.5 billion to purchase and distribute agricultural products and to provide grants and loans to protect agricultural workers from COVID-19. On January 4, 2021, the USDA announced its plans to implement the first component through $1.5 billion in a fifth round of the Farmers to Families Food Box program.
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