New Round of Crop, Livestock Aid Included in Congressional Deal

Source: By Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor • Posted: Monday, December 21, 2020

Congress reached a deal Sunday to pass roughly a $900 billion spending bill that includes about $5 billion for crop producers and $3 billion for livestock and poultry producers. The bill also would compensate livestock and poultry producers who were forced to euthanize animals because of the pandemic as well. (CDC image of COVID-19 virus)
Congress reached a deal Sunday to pass roughly a $900 billion spending bill that includes about $5 billion for crop producers and $3 billion for livestock and poultry producers. The bill also would compensate livestock and poultry producers who were forced to euthanize animals because of the pandemic as well. (CDC image of COVID-19 virus)

OMAHA (DTN) — Crop farmers will receive $20 an acre payments under the $900 billion emergency aid deal reached by Congress on Sunday.

The aid package comes as Congress is trying to close out 2020 and fund the federal government for the rest of its fiscal year. The House and Senate each approved one-day extensions on Sunday to reach a final deal on the aid package and overall federal funding for the rest of fiscal-year 2021.

Specifically, the bill includes an estimated $5 billion that will provide supplemental $20 per-acre payments to all row-crop producers, according to details releases by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Another $3 billion will provide payments to cattle producers, contract growers of livestock and poultry, dairy farmers and livestock producers who were forced to euthanize their livestock or poultry because of the pandemic and its impacts on the supply chain. Another $225 million will be provides for supplemental payments to specialty-crop growers who lost their crops in 2019.

Overall, the aid bill includes $13 billion set aside for food purchases and direct support for farmers and ranchers.

Besides direct aid that could come from USDA programs, farmers and other small businesses should start working with their lenders to see if they may qualify for another round of aid under the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The bill includes $275 billion for PPP, but also includes some expansion on businesses that qualify and carve outs for certain small businesses and minority-owned businesses. Last spring and summer when the Treasury Department opened up PPP to banks, the funding went quickly. Agricultural-related businesses received about 1.5% of the loans.

American families would receive $600 per person checks that would go to married couples making $150,000 or less, or phase out completely for couples making more than $198,000. Congress also will provide a $300 a week boost for federal unemployment benefits as well. The direct checks and unemployment are half of the aid Congress provides in similar legislation last spring.

More aid will go towards food purchases, donations and worker protection. That includes another $1.5 billion in food purchases that likely would go to USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program, or a similar effort. Yet, there will also be a mandatory review of USDA’s food purchases and distributions under that program. More aid will be set up to protect workers “and retooling support for farmers, farmers markets, and food processors to respond to COVID-19,” according to Stabenow’s details on provisions in the bill.

|