Third round of Coronavirus relief on its way to U.S. farmers

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 7:10 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Biden Administration has started sending out some of the $5.6 billion to cattle and crop farmers as they have opened up the third round of Coronavirus relief to farmers and ranchers. Producers have until June to apply for those funds. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this new round of funding will reach a broader set of producers, including minority farmers, smaller operators and those who grow “less traditional crops.” The expanded plan known as the Pandemic Assistance for Producers Program is designed to help fruit and vegetable growers, beginning and organic farmers, help with donations of dairy products to food programs and give some aid to biofuel producers. As of this past Monday, the USDA had sent out almost $24 billion to farmers and ranchers since payments began in May of last year. Iowa farmers have gotten the most—just over $2 billion.

New numbers show soybeans are the most valuable U.S. crop when it comes to exports. The Foreign Agricultural Service says soybeans accounted for 18 cents of every dollar of foreign sales last year—a record $25.7 billion as bean exports jumped 38% in the last marketing year. Corn was second at $9.2 billion in export sales in 2020. China was, by far, our biggest customer as they bought $26.4 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products last year—nearly twice as much as they bought from us in 2019.

Other new numbers now show that the U.S. Food and Agriculture industry contributes 7 trillion dollars a year to our overall economy. That’s one fifth of the country’s economic activity as the industry supports more than 10 million jobs or about 13% of U.S. employment with 2 trillion dollars in wages as the industry also paid $797 billion in taxes. In Wisconsin, the ag industry contributes almost 105 billion dollars a year to our economy and provides about 12% of all jobs in the state. The dairy industry makes the biggest contribution, providing over 45 and a half billion dollars to Wisconsin’s economy every year.

Iowa’s state legislature has passed its 4th law protecting livestock operations from animal rights’ groups. This new bill would make it an aggravated misdemeanor for anyone to enter private property without consent and take samples of soil, water or animal products. Violators could get 2 years in prison.

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