ND Farmers Union details Coronavirus Relief
Late Monday night, the House and Senate approved $900 billion in coronavirus relief, including $13 billion for farmers and ranchers. The legislation was passed alongside fiscal year 2021 appropriations and came after months of on-again, off-again negotiations between the House and Senate. NDFU President Mark Watne applauded the bill saying, “This support will put farmers on better footing heading into the 2021 crop year.”
Here is a summary of key provisions:
$20 Row Crop Supplement
The legislation provides $20 per acre for all commodities included in the price-trigger and flat rate categories under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2). Producers of all farm program crops, except for dry peas, lentils and chickpeas, will receive the payments, which apply to 2020 planted acres. The legislation also requires USDA to include crop insurance indemnities in the calculation for pulse crops and other sales commodities.
Top-Up Cattle Payment
Ranchers will receive an additional top-up payment on cattle claimed as inventory for CFAP 1. The provision will help close the gap between producers who sold their cattle before April 16 and those who marketed them after. The legislation also expands eligibility for livestock payments to producers who were forced to euthanize animals.
The bill establishes a $60 million grant program to help meat processors achieve federal inspection. It also creates a livestock statutory dealer trust, which will protect producers in the event of a dealer default.
Support for Biofuel Refineries
The secretary of agriculture will finally have authority to offer direct support to biofuel refineries, providing them a potential lifeline during an incredibly challenging year. NDFU, National Farmers Union and many others have called for the support since the CARES Act passed in March. It is unclear how much money will be available for biofuel plants or how the secretary will use the authority.
$13 Billion for Nutrition Assistance
Congress matched farm aid with $13 billion for nutrition and hunger programs. The legislation includes a temporary 15% increase to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, $413 million for commodity distribution programs, and $400 million for a dairy donation program.
PPP Renewed and Extended
Congress authorized another $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), reopening the program after it closed in August. Small businesses hardest hit by the pandemic will be eligible for second-draw PPP loans. The legislation also allows farmers who recorded a net loss in 2019 to receive PPP funds. Sole proprietor farmers will be able to use their gross income as the basis for the PPP calculation, allowing them to receive up to $20,833. NDFU advocated for the PPP fix based on feedback from our members.
Another Round of Stimulus Checks
The legislation provides another round of stimulus checks but downsizes the benefit from what was provided in the CARES Act. The maximum payment is $600 per individual and $1,200 per couple. All individuals with income less than $75,000 and joint filers with income less than $150,000 are eligible for the full payment. An additional $600 will be provided for each qualifying child.
A Lot More…
The 5,600 page package includes much more than what has been covered here. Another key provision provides an 11-week extension of unemployment insurance benefits included in the original CARES Act. There is also up to $69 billion for COVID testing, contact tracing and vaccine distribution, a prohibition on surprise medical bills and $28 million for farm stress programs.
The $1.4 trillion appropriations bill also provides a few key highlights, including $1.5 billion for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+), increased funding for FSA loans and agriculture mediation programs, and continued funding for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network and Rural Cooperative Development Grants.
NDFU will provide updates as the programs are implemented.
–North Dakota Farmers Union
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