Hoeven: $14B for CCC, $9.5B for livestock, specialty crops; Leahy: money for nutrition, rural development | TheFencePost.com

Hoeven: $14B for CCC, $9.5B for livestock, specialty crops; Leahy: money for nutrition, rural development

The coronavirus bill that the Senate is expected to vote on today includes a $14 billion replenishment for the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation and a separate $9.5 billion fund to aid livestock and specialty crop producers, a spokeswoman for Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., has told The Hagstrom Report.

“We secured $14 billion to replenish the CCC fund. Separately, we secured $9.5 billion in emergency funding support for ag producers, including producers of specialty crops and livestock. The legislation also includes funding for a variety of other USDA programs to help producers and rural America,” the spokeswoman said.

Hoeven had pushed for a $30 billion CCC replenishment for this fiscal year, a $20 billion increase and for authority for USDA to use the CCC to make payments to livestock producers.

Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced that the total increase in funding for the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration is $48.9 billion.

That includes $15.5 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and money for other nutrition programs and rural development.

Leahy said the $9.5 billion program can be used to help specialty crop producers who support local food systems and to help dairy producers.

Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., have been leading efforts to include aid to farmers who sell locally.

With the situation uncertain, Pingree said in an email to The Hagstrom Report late Tuesday, “Local and regional food producers need urgent economic relief. I’m continuing to push for their direct aid to be included in this package and working to ensure the next coronavirus stimulus does not leave them behind. Most of the producers who are suffering market-related losses due to farmer’s market closures did not benefit from the trade mitigation payments made by the Trump administration, so we need to make sure that local and regional food producers also receive direct assistance during this difficult time.”

On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that it was her understanding that a provision to bump up SNAP benefits 15% had been taken out and that the decision “disappointed” her. The Hill reported that if there is no increase in SNAP benefits, progressive and minority House members may find it difficult to support the bill.

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., noted early this week that previous bills in emergencies have included an increase in SNAP benefits, which were previously known as food stamps.

Pelosi praised the bill early today, but did not say when the House might vote.

“America is facing a grave health crisis with a serious impact on our economy. I salute the strong leadership of Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats. I especially thank our House Democratic Committee chairmen, who worked hard to move the Republican proposal from corporations-focused to workers-first and who will now review the legislative text of this agreement with our caucus.

“The Republican bill proposed by Senator McConnell on Sunday was a non-starter.

“This bipartisan legislation takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people. While the compromise does not go as far as our Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers.

“House Democrats will now review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action.”