Lewes (Del.) Cape Gazette
Future COVID-19 relief requested for chicken farmers
July 14, 2020
The American Farm Bureau Federation has joined in advocacy efforts to encourage future relief aid for chicken farmers dealing with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With several months of input from leaders such as Delaware Farm Bureau President Richard Wilkins, co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., led a letter initiative detailing the impacts of COVID-19 on the national chicken industry and its farmers.
“As the chicken industry in Delaware and across the country continues to cope with reduced demand and processing capacity, chicken farmers have experienced a big hit to their bottom lines. In many instances, farmers are receiving fewer birds on a less frequent basis, and in some cases they have been forced to depopulate millions of healthy birds. Although other famers have benefited from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, chicken farmers have not received any assistance and are in desperate need of our help,” said Coons. “This bipartisan coalition is requesting that any future legislation addressing the pandemic include direct assistance for chicken farmers who have suffered losses as a result of COVID-19.”
The bipartisan letter was signed by 19 U.S. senators including Coons and Wicker, and sent to Senate leadership and the Senate Committee on Agriculture.
It reads, in part, “While we appreciate that the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provides direct payments for agricultural producers through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, this program does not provide assistance for chicken farmers. We strongly request that any future stimulus legislation provide direct payments for chicken farmers who experienced revenue losses of at least 5 percent as a result of COVID-19.”
Signing senators also included Tom Carper, D-Del.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Doug Jones, D-Ala.; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; Benjamin Cardin, D-Md.; Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Robert P. Casey Jr., D-Pa.; Tim Kaine, Va.; and Tim Scott, R-S.C.
“Farming is hard work no matter where you land in the supply chain. It is our hope that more farmers will be positively impacted by our efforts with the help our own Sen. Chris Coons and others who have taken the time to hear our concerns. We know that contract farmers have suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic like other agriculture professionals. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to advocate for them on behalf of the farm bureau as is our mission,” Wilkins said.
For more information on advocacy efforts by the American Farm Bureau Federation, go to www.fb.org.