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Potential Covid relief bill includes $26 billion for agriculture

(AP)
Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 6:26 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - If Congress can ever agree on a new Coronavirus aid program, the $908 billion package being pushed by a bipartisan group of 26 Senators, is likely to be the one that can pass. That bill includes $26 billion for agriculture with half that total going as more aid payments to farmers and ranchers. The other half of the total will be used for nutrition, water and wastewater programs, aid to fisheries and rural disaster relief.

Payments from the second Coronavirus Food Assistance Program are continuing. As of this past Sunday, almost 12 and a half billion dollars have been mailed to farmers and ranchers. That includes just over 6 billion dollars to crop farmers, 3 and a third billion to livestock producers, and just over 1.1 billion dollars to dairy farmers. Over 838,000 applications were approved for the program. Iowa farmers have gotten the most from the program so far--$1.12 billion, followed by California, Nebraska, Minnesota with 795 million dollars in payments, then Illinois, Texas, Kansas, South Dakota and Wisconsin, where state farmers have already gotten 504 and a half million dollars from the program. Under the first Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which has now been de-funded, total payments reached just over 10 and a half billion dollars for about 150 thousand fewer applicants.

The guy that’s in charge of putting out all those numbers from the USDA is leaving his job as Chief Economist. Rob Johansson is quitting the USDA to take a job with the American Sugar Alliance. He will be replaced by Seth Meyer who is currently the associate director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. That job does not change with the change of the Administration.

We now know who the finalists are for the Wisconsin Soybean Association and the Soybean Marketing Board’s 2020 soybean yield contest. From our area the list includes Ryan bates of Elmwood, Paul Lapacinski of Cameron, Mike and Dean Wegner of Sparta, and Jim Wilson of St. Croix Falls. The final rankings and awards will be presented during a virtual program on January 21st.

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