Virginia farmers follow progress of CARES-2 relief legislation through Congress
Farmers are paying attention as Congress negotiates a second round of legislation for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES-2.
House Democrats passed the proposal to provide $3 trillion in coronavirus pandemic relief, with nearly $1 billion for access to meals for the food-insecure. Another $400 million is allocated for an emergency food assistance program through September 2021.
But this round of legislation is likely to hit roadblocks in the Senate. Republican leaders say they are still waiting for billions in aid to be allocated from the first round of the CARES Act, and the White House wants to assess the impact of reopening the economy before passing another large stimulus package.
Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is closely following the path of the CARES-2 Act.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt an enormous blow to farmers across Virginia and the nation,” said Ben Rowe, VFBF national affairs coordinator. “Nearly every sector—dairy, livestock, produce, horticulture—has seen their markets shrink overnight or even disappear, and in a diverse agricultural state like Virginia that causes major disruptions. As Congress works on emergency legislation to help America’s economy, we must ensure that farmers are not left out.”
American Farm Bureau Federation asserts CARES-2 has the potential to provide a lifeline to farm families in their time of need, as falling commodity prices and other significant food chain disruptions are impacting life on farms in Virginia and across the U.S.
“And this bill has the potential to reinforce the economic health of the agricultural sector as the nation fights this pandemic,” Rowe said.
In the meantime, farmers are making their voices heard through an AFBF-led email campaign. They specifically ask that this second round of legislation support the replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation funding to $68 billion, which helps U.S. agriculture, particularly in times of uncertainty.
In addition, farmers are seeking more resources directed to the U.S. secretary of agriculture for COVID-19 response, and support for producers of all sizes and crops who have been impacted.
“We need to ensure adequate funding is available to provide relief for farmers who have already encountered losses due to COVID-19, as well as those who are planting now and will be harvesting in a few months,” the email explained.
Also requested is support for biofuel production facilities and other aspects of the food, feed and fiber supply chain to ensure the long-term economic stability of rural communities.