Relief for Farmers: What the American Rescue Plan includes for agriculture

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 7:21 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Now that Congress has passed that 1.9 billion dollar Covid relief bill that President Biden will sign today, the question is, what’s in it for farmers and rural America? Among other things the bill includes about $7 billion for the Payroll Protection Program and 15 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, both of which have helped agricultural businesses in the past year. The bill also provides food aid for the hungry, including extending the 15% increase for the Food Stamp program through September 30th. It also calls for $4 billion to help fix disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the pandemic which includes increased food donations, protection for food workers, food infrastructure investments and support for the livestock and animal health industries.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack continues to talk with agriculture leaders around the world. On Tuesday he spoke with Commissioner for Agriculture for the European Union. The two talked mainly about the environment, rural economics and trade. A spokesperson for Vilsack said it was more of a get to know me session but the two plan to have more talks soon where they will get more detailed on the issues.

Former House Agriculture Committee Chair and Minnesota Congressman Colin Peterson, who lost his bid for re-election last fall, has a new job. He has signed on with a Washington lobbying firm to help them form a bipartisan alliance to protect and promote rural America. By law Peterson will have to wait a certain period of time before he can lobby his former colleagues in Congress.

No young kids in the U.S. should go hungry this summer. That’s because the USDA has announced a nationwide extension so that all school children will get free, nutritious meals through September 30th of this year. Before the extension, those free meals were set to end on June 30th. All children, regardless of income will be eligible for those meals. That means the Summer Meal programs will be available in all areas at no cost, allow those meals to be picked up outside the normal required group settings and times and will also let parents and guardians to pick up meals, including bulk pick-up to cover multiple days of feeding the kids. Current USDA estimates say there are currently up to 12 million children who do not have access to enough to eat. All children 18 and under will be included.

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