GOP bill provides $20 billion for Ag, but no change to CCC authority
The Republican COVID-19 pandemic aid package announced today will provide $20.457 billion in “direct funding” to the Office of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that can be used for a a variety of purposes, including aiding livestock producers who had to dispose of their animals — but it does not make any changes to how the Commodity Credit Corporation can spend money.
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced the direct funding under what the Senate Republicans are calling the HEALS Act.
Hoeven also noted that the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation already has $14 billion to spend on COVID-19 relief.
“This HEALS Act assistance we secured for farmers and ranchers will help to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on farm country,” said Hoeven.
“Between the new direct funding and the CCC commitment, USDA will provide $34 billion to producers. At the same time, we are working through the Agriculture Appropriations Committee to ensure there is enough additional CCC authority for the regular farm bill programs. I am hopeful that we can pass this much-needed relief for producers in a timely way.”
The text of the bill says:
“For an additional amount for the ‘Office of the Secretary,’ $20,000,000,000, to remain available until expended, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers, growers, and processors impacted by coronavirus, including producers, growers, and processors of specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry, including livestock and poultry depopulated due to insufficient processing access and growers who produce livestock or poultry under a contract for another entity.”
For agriculture, the bill also includes:
▪ $76.4 million for additional salaries and expenses at the Farm Service Agency “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including necessary expenses to hire temporary staff and overtime expenses.”
▪ $20 million for rural development program salaries and expenses ”to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including administrative expenses.”
▪ $113.4 million for the USDA rental assistance program for temporary adjustment of wage income losses for residents of housing financed or assisted under the Housing Act of 1949.
▪ $250,000 for nutrition programs administration overtime expenses.
▪ $2 million for the Foreign Agricultural Service for additional salaries and expenses including relocation of employees and their dependents from overseas posts.
▪ $245 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to make up for the loss of quarantine and inspection fees resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.