Senate GOP’s relief package includes $20B for agriculture


Senate GOP’s relief package includes $20B for agriculture

The coronavirus relief package unveiled by Senate Republicans on Monday would give the USDA broad authority to spend an additional 20 billion dollars to assist ag producers and processors.

Unlike the House-passed HEROES Act, the Senate GOP proposal does not specify how the money should be spent. But American Farm Bureau economist John Newton says some of it should be used to help producers and commodities left out of the first round of CFAP payments.

“And the first round of CFAP really only covered losses up through mid-April, so there are additional losses that producers have experienced,” Newton says. “I think that 20 billion will help USDA craft much needed support programs, and hopefully capture the damages to the 2020 crop.”

The Senate proposal does not mention the biofuels industry specifically, but it does list “ag processors” as being eligible for aid. Ethanol advocacy group Growth Energy says it is “critical” that a final agreement between the House and Senate provide certainty on the level of assistance to the biofuels industry.

Likewise, the Senate bill does not specifically mention indemnities for pork and poultry producers, while the House bill does. The National Pork Producers Council has been lobbying Congress and the USDA to assist hog farmers who were forced to euthanize their animals.

The 20 billion dollars for ag assistance in the Senate package is 13 billion dollars less than what is contained in the House bill.

Brownfield’s Larry Lee contributed to this story.

AUDIO: Comments from John Newton, recorded prior to the release of the Senate GOP package