The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe impacts across America’s agricultural economy. That’s why a group of senators, led by Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, introduced the Farming Support to States Act. The legislation would provide states access to immediate, flexible funding to aid for responding to urgent and emerging issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in agriculture and the food supply chain.
Baldwin says the bipartisan bill, which has a companion bill in the House, is needed.
“We are seeing disruptions to our food supply chain, not just in the Midwest, but really across the county. And those of us who represent rural states understand because we hear these stories every day and there’s a lot of hardship, there’s a lot or crisis. Our farmers and our food workers really are serving this county right now because they do essential work every day to feed the county, but they are definitely seeing and feeling the dire economic impacts of this pandemic.”
The bill would provide $1 billion for food and agriculture aid to states. USDA would allocate funds to all states and territories, with substantial funding targeted to states based on their contributions to regional and national food systems.
“It would help because it would allow the state departments of agriculture to be able to use these funds flexibly for the challenge that their area faces. Right now, after we passed the CARES Act, which, don’t get me wrong, is a huge step in order to help individuals and families and small businesses stabilize, but it wasn’t a very good fit for some of the businesses that were talking about, whether they’re farms or small processing plants, etc. So, we need to create a tool that is more flexible to address the problems in a particular area.”
The Farming Support to States Act is supported by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the American Farm Bureau Federation.