What's in the CARES Act for Agriculture
On March 27 President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The bill provides more than $2 trillion in financial support for individuals and businesses nationwide.
While much attention has been paid to the bill’s $1,200 payments to individuals, it also provides more than $73 billion for agricultural and nutrition programs.
Some key ag provisions, according to analysis from the American Farm Bureau Federation:
• For the agriculture-related provisions, the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture received $9.5 billion, approximately 19% of the total food and agriculture provisions, to provide financial support to farmers and ranchers impacted by coronavirus. The funding is allocated specifically for specialty crops, producers who supply local food systems and farmers’ markets, restaurants and schools, livestock producers, i.e., cattle producers and dairy farmers.
• The USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) was replenished with $14 billion – 29% of the total allocated for agriculture. The CCC is the funding mechanism for agricultural programs such as Price Loss Coverage and Dairy Margin Coverage. The CCC bolsters commodity and income support programs, natural resources conservation programs, disaster assistance programs and the Market Facilitation Program. The $14-billion replenishment is for fiscal year 2020, so that’s in addition to the second and third tranche of MFP payments, as well as farm bill payments made last fall. This replenishment will allow USDA to develop new support programs to assist agricultural producers and potentially help agribusinesses in financial distress.
• Direct food-and agriculture-related provisions in the CARES Act total approximately $49 billion. The act provides a total of $24.6 billion for domestic food programs – representing 50% of the total agricultural program funding in the bill. The act allocates $15.8 billion to improve access to supplemental nutrition programs in the event costs or participation exceed budget estimates. Of that total, $300 million is allocated for SNAP improvements in underserved areas such as Indian reservations or U.S. territories. In addition to enhanced funding for SNAP, child nutrition programs received $8.8 billion in additional funding – representing 18% of the total.
• Approximately $916 million is allocated for enhancing staffing and services in a number of key mission areas. The package includes funding for a variety of programs critical for rural America, including $100 million for USDA’s ReConnect pilot, $25 million for distance learning and telemedicine programs, $185 million to support rural critical access hospitals, rural tribal health and telehealth programs, and poison control centers, and $20.5 million to support an additional $1 billion of lending through USDA's Rural Development.
To read AFBF’s complete analysis, visit www.gfb.ag/CARESActsummary.