FARMFEST: Sen. Smith Delivered For Minnesota Agriculture in COVID-19 Relief Legislation

For Immediate Release:
August 4, 2020

Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Senator Tina Smith helped secure funding to expand telehealth services and to provide aid for Minnesota farmers.

Sen. Smith helped secure $24 billion dollars in aid for American farmers and producers in COVID-19 response packages including the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provided up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers. And as of July 10, over $7 billion in PPP loans have gone to agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting employers nationwide.


The Stimulus Included $24 Billion For Farmers And Ranchers, With $14 Billion To Support Farmers, And $9.5 Billion For Livestock Operations, Including Dairy Farmers, As Well As Specialty Crop Producers. POLITICO: “Relief for farmers, ranchers: $24 billion What they got: Nearly $24 billion, including $14 billion for an obscure Depression-era financial institution that USDA has wide discretion to use to stabilize the farm economy. Another $9.5 billion would be set aside for emergency aid for the agriculture sector, including cattle ranchers and fresh fruit and vegetable growers.” Ag Info: “Among the aid to specific industries includes a $14 billion boost in funding authority for USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp. that would allow USDA to provide more direct aid to producers. USDA’s CCC program has been depleted this year because of the Market Facilitation Program, but the new funding would allow USDA to provide more aid. The legislation also includes a $9.5 billion assistance program that would go more directly for livestock operations, including dairy farmers, as well as fruit-and-vegetable (specialty) crop producers. Farmers who sell directly to farmers markets, schools and restaurants would also be eligible for aid.” [POLITICO, 3/25/20; Ag Info, 3/26/20]

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), Provided Up To $16 Billion In Direct Payments To Deliver Relief To America’s Farmers And Ranchers Impacted By The Coronavirus Pandemic. “U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. I […] Farmers and ranchers will receive direct support, drawn from two possible funding sources. The first source of funding is $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act to compensate farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid-January 2020, and mid-April 2020 and provides support for specialty crops for product that had been shipped from the farm between the same time period but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channels. The second funding source uses the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to compensate producers for $6.5 billion in losses due to on-going market disruptions.” [USDA, press release, 5/19/20]

The Stimulus Included Two Bipartisan Pieces Of Legislation Senator Smith Introduced To Fund Rural And Telehealth Grant Programs. “On March 25, the Senate passed a coronavirus relief package that included two bipartisan pieces of legislation Senator Smith introduced to reauthorize rural and telehealth grant programs. In May, Smith introduced the bipartisan Tele-Mental Health Improvement Act to improve access to tele-mental health care as demand spikes during the coronavirus pandemic. In June, Smith introduced the Health Care at Home Act, which is cosponsored by Klobuchar, to provide telehealth parity for mental and physical health services. This month Senator Smith also introduced the bipartisan Home-Based Tele-mental Health Care Act to establish a tele-mental health demonstration program for people in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations.” [KTOE, 6/17/20]

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