Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) led a Senate colloquy Monday to outline the importance of supporting farmers, ranchers and rural America in legislation to provide relief from the impacts of COVID-19. Hoeven worked to include $50 billion in funding authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Several senators joined Hoeven, including Deb Fischer (R-NE) who spoke about about how the outbreak of coronavirus is hurting the agriculture economy by driving down crop and livestock prices.
“This coronavirus is adding another dimension to an already battered agriculture economy and this disease has been driving down crop and livestock prices,” said Sen. Fischer. “Ag futures have been dipping since February, prices offered for ranchers’ cattle have been dropping, ethanol plants are starting to idle or close down across the country, and there’s a lot of unsold grain sitting around the countryside in on farm storage.”
The $50 billion in funding authority sought would include replenishing $30 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding authority for USDA; increasing the CCC borrowing authority an additional $20 billion for USDA to respond to COVID-19; and enabling USDA to utilize CCC funding to assist livestock producers, as well as other sectors of the agriculture economy.