ASA provided a few new COVID-19-related updates and resources on Monday, May 11. ASA along with other leading commodity and agricultural organizations, signed onto the following letters:
- A letter to Senate leadership to request $1 billion be included in the next COVID-19 supplemental funding package for procurement of U.S. commodities through U.S. international food aid programs to address the immediate needs of the emerging global hunger crisis. This letter is in response to the remarks made in April by UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley, who stated the food crisis and global hunger is, “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II,” and will only be made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. American farmers and the U.S. food supply chain are well positioned to provide these critical products to those most vulnerable across the world. Read the letter here.
- A letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) requesting the next COVID-19 relief package include immediate, temporary, and direct assistance to help the U.S. biofuel industry retain its skilled workforce and mitigate the impact of plant closures on the food and feed supply chain and rural communities. There are numerous mechanisms overseen by USDA that could quickly facilitate direct assistance to the biofuel industry. Preserving the vital biofuels market for farmers supports long-term demand for agriculture and farm sector recovery. Read the letter here.
House Unveils $3T COVID Relief Package
On Tuesday afternoon, the House released a $3 trillion COVID-19 supplemental package and is expected to vote on Friday. ASA would like to note that this is a partisan package, and likely not a final that will pass through the Senate or land on the President’s desk. This is a comprehensive, 1800+ page bill, so the following reflects highlights that may be of interest – it is not all-inclusive.
- Farm stress assistance programs: Provides $28 million
- Direct payments to farmers: Provides $16.5 billion
- Commodity Credit Corporation (USDA’s CCC):
- Creates a “strings attached” approach to future use of CCC funds, including a congressional notification and waiting period
- Expands authorities to include aid for 1) livestock and poultry removal due to supply chain disruption during emergency periods; 2) processing plants to ensure supply chain continuity during emergency periods
- Livestock, dairy, specialty crop producers: Provides assistance programs
- Renewable fuels: Provides an assistance program for biofuels producers
- Conservation: Establishes an Emergency Soil Health and Income Protection Program capped at 5 million acres
- Broadband: Provides $5.5 billion, including for students and home connectivity needs
- Rural health care: Expands rural health care programs and increases broadband subsidy rate
- Surface transportation: Provides $15 billion for grants to support ongoing highway projects
USDA Hosted Webinar on CFAP application process on 05/14 at 1PM EST
On Thursday, May 14, at 1:00PM EST, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) hosted a webinar for producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This webinar is a brief introduction for those who may be new to doing business with FSA an opportunity for producers to learn about the general application process and required documentation prior to the official beginning of signup; it is not expected to address CFAP details. Please share with any producers who have never done business with FSA before.
Producers interested in watching the webinar can click here:
ASA Government Affairs Team Update
On Wednesday, May 13, a press release was distributed on Virginia Houston joining ASA. Virginia starts June 1 as Director of Government Affairs over the trade portfolio. She has a diverse background in agriculture, including working most recently for American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and, before that, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Animal Agriculture Alliance. Read more about Virginia’s background and experience in this morning’s release, and please join us in welcoming her on board when you have a chance.