New COVID package helps farmers previously left out of aid

Congress agreed on a $900 billion COVID stimulus package, which will include up to $13 billion in funding that directly benefits agriculture. Nearly $1 billion will support a dairy donation program and supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments for small and medium-sized producers. More help will be made available to specialty and non-specialty crop growers, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be expanded, which will allow small farmers to continue operating and paying their employees.

Many farmers and ranchers who were previously left out of aid will now qualify for assistance, including growers who were forced to euthanize livestock during the initial wave of the pandemic.

The American Farm Bureau Federation worked for several months to ensure the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers were brought forward to lawmakers as they considered the latest stimulus package.

“We’re pleased that Congress understands the toll the pandemic continues to take on farmers, ranchers and rural Americans,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “Farmers who were left out of previous aid packages or whose losses were far more devastating than recognized in initial aid are grateful that their families will be helped, too. We recognize the need is great across our entire economy and farm families will join the rest of America in our determination to recover from the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Highlights of the coronavirus stimulus bill include:

• 80% reimbursement for losses due to premature euthanization or canceled orders.
• $20 per planted acre for non-specialty crops.
• Crop insurance payments and disaster payments may be used to calculate 2019 sales.
• $7 billion is allocated for broadband, including $300 million for rural broadband and $250 million for telehealth.
• PPP funding may be used for COVID mitigation expenses.
• Expenses paid with PPP loans will now be allowed as a tax deduction.
15% increase in SNAP benefits.

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