Ag Chat with Bob Bosold- May 20

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 7:13 AM CDT
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More federal aid is coming for farmers. Starting next Tuesday, May 26th, farmers can apply for some of the $16 billion in direct payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance program announced at the White House yesterday. That new aid package also includes $3 billion to buy fresh produce, dairy and meat products off the market and give it food banks around the country. The money for farmers comes from 2 sources. The first 9 and a half billion dollars will come from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program with the remaining 6 and a half billion coming from the Commodity Credit Corporation. Payments are expected to go out about a week after a farmer applies at local Farm Service Agency offices.

If farmers have to dump anymore milk because of plant and market disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, they will get some relief from the dairy check-off program. New rules in Wisconsin now say that any milk dumped from May 15th forward will not be charged the 10 cent assessment collected to promote dairy products. Working with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, the producer led board that handles those check-off funds, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection officials say the agreement was reached to help dairy farmers during these tough economic times. That decision will be in effect until the Coronavirus national emergency is declared over.

Officials are also now finding out that farms that took money through the Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act, may have to pay sick leave for employees off work because of the virus. The rules also say to help small businesses, like farms, deal with those payments, the federal government will provide dollar for dollar reimbursement through tax credits. Farms would have to pay up to 80 hours of sick leave, at full wages, to any W-2 employees who are unable to work because of the virus.

Partly because of lost business blamed on the Coronavirus, Foremost Farms USA dairy cooperative, based in Baraboo, has announced they will close their Chilton manufacturing plant in July. Coop officials say lost food service orders and the aging facility make closing the facility the best option for the cooperative. The plant was built in the 1940s and makes mainly Italian style cheeses. 53 workers will lose their jobs when the plant closes.

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