The House of Representatives passed another COVID economic relief package, the HEROES Act II, which provides for $2.2 trillion in coronavirus relief. Part of that relief aid is geared toward rural communities and farmers and ranchers.
“We were pleased to see the House once again prioritize assistance for the renewable fuels industry as part of its economic relief package. The Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program included in the original HEROES ACT, and now part of the new legislation, represents a potential lifeline for the 350,000 men and women whose jobs depend on a healthy and vibrant ethanol industry. We greatly appreciate the efforts and leadership of all those in the House who understand that rural communities across the nation depend on the renewable fuels industry for job creation, economic vitality, and new market opportunities for farmers,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper.
The National Farmers Union says the $2.2 trillion stimulus package incorporates many provisions their members requested during the organization’s recent legislative fly-in, including support for local and regional meat processing, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), farm stress programs, and nutrition assistance.
NFU President Rob Larew said, “Throughout the pandemic, Congress, and the USDA have worked to provide family farmers and ranchers with the help they need, for which we are extremely grateful. Just a few days ago, the Senate passed a continuing resolution that would replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, which funds a number of farm support programs. This follows last week’s announcement that there will be a second tranche of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments, with important changes to cover more farmers.
“These efforts have gone a long way to keep farmers afloat amidst market uncertainty and supply chain disruptions. But the farm economy doesn’t exist in a vacuum — its strength depends on the strength of the economy at large and the wellbeing of the American people, which is why Farmers Union has pushed for another economic stimulus package. As such, we applaud the Heroes Act, particularly many of the adjustments that have been made since it was initially introduced in May.
“One important addition is the RAMP-UP Act, which will help small- and mid-sized meat processing plants cover the cost of federal inspection. Farmers and ranchers have long experienced a severe shortage of meat processing facilities — and it has only gotten worse during the pandemic when several large plants shut down or slowed production. By expanding alternative processing options, this important provision would establish greater resilience in our meat supply chain. Additionally, the Heroes Act would bolster other critical rural infrastructure, including the U.S. Postal Service, mental health care, and covid-19 testing and tracing.
“We are similarly pleased by the inclusion of several measures that would protect food chain workers, food businesses, and food security. For one, the bill allocates $120 billion to assist the restaurant industry, which has been especially hard-hit. It also would strengthen safety standards for slaughterhouses, poultry processing plants, and agricultural workplaces, where there is a higher risk of contracting covid-19. And finally, the Heroes Act would help more Americans feed their families by expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The health of our food system, from farm to plate, is only as strong as its weakest link — we appreciate the House’s consideration for every stakeholder.