HYDE-SMITH: COVID-19 RELIEF BILL PROVIDES AID TO AGRICULTURE SECTOR
Miss. Senator Worked to Protect, Improve Provisions that Should Benefit Miss. Livestock Production, Ag Interests
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today reported that Senate-passed legislation to confront the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic includes provisions that should help Mississippi agriculture and livestock producers affected by the outbreak.
Hyde-Smith, who serves on Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Agriculture Committee, this week advocated for agricultural support in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Some of these provisions encountered Democrat opposition, which contributed to delayed passage of the bill since Sunday.
“The all-of-America approach to fighting COVID-19 means including agriculture and rural communities in the mix. Food producers are key to keeping the food supply system working,” Hyde-Smith said.
“The final bill makes significant emergency funding available for agricultural programs, which should benefit livestock, poultry, and catfish producers in Mississippi. It also supports USDA programs dealing with rural broadband, telehealth, and nutrition programs,” she said.
Passed unanimously late Wednesday night, the bill provides $9.5 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to support agricultural producers affected by COVID-19, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, and livestock producers. A broad definition of “livestock,” as well as flexibility provided to the Secretary of Agriculture, should expand eligibility to Mississippi cattle, catfish, and poultry producers.
It provides $14 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which will give the USDA resources to continue 2018 Farm Bill programs and other USDA programs uninterrupted. In addition to the $9.5 direct appropriation, the CCC funding would ensure the USDA has the resources it needs to assist producers during the COVID-19 emergency and, if necessary, issue another round of tariff support payments should China change course in ongoing trade negotiations.
Mississippi interests should also benefit from additional flexibility granted to the Agriculture Secretary to administer the CCC funding.
Under the agriculture section, the bill also provides additional funding for telemedicine, broadband connectivity, business and industry loans, and nutrition assistance for schools, food banks, and families. A brief summary of agriculture-related appropriations is available HERE.
The overall emergency supplemental appropriations portion of the CARES Act also provides funding for hospitals and veterans’ health care; vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other preparedness needs; the Centers for Disease Control and Strategic National Stockpile; and the FEMA disaster relief fund, among other things. An overall emergency supplemental appropriations package summary is HERE.