COVID-19 Assistance Package Includes Provisions For Rural America

House and Senate Ag Democrats have agreed on budget instructions for the farm, food and rural part of the party’s massive COVID-19 relief bill, which party leaders hope will pass in the next few weeks. There’s $3.6 billion to strengthen the food supply chain and feed the hungry.

“Many essential food workers were on the front lines without adequate protection,” said Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow. “Farmers had no choice but to destroy the crops they could not sell. Millions of families still don’t have enough food to eat; and food banks are overwhelmed.”

There’s $100 million for small meat processor overtime fee relief, more for food donation-buys from farmers, a 15% boost to SNAP programs, billions of dollars for minority farmers and institutions, and funds for rural hospitals, vaccine access, testing, and telehealth.

“We need to make sure our workers, our essential workers on the line, in the farm fields, in processing facilities and the like, are protected, and we certainly need to work collaboratively with Congress and others to build back the rural economy in better shape than it was before the COVID-crisis,” said Ag Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack during his recent confirmation hearing,

Vilsack has still to be confirmed, which is now more likely after the Senate concludes its impeachment trial of former President Trump.

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