National Farmers Union Believes Urgent Concerns For Rural America Addressed in Stimulus PackageThu, 26 Mar 2020 06:28:21 CDT
The Pandemic Stimulus Package that passed the Senate late Wednesday includes help in several areas for rural America and for farmers and ranchers. According to the National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, the bill "would address many of our most urgent concerns," primarily ensuring that rural hospitals are adequately prepared to handle this crisis and that our food system can continue to operate. He thanked Congress for their efforts and urged them to enact the bill as soon as possible. "The challenges our country is currently facing are unprecedented - and they call for unprecedented solutions," Larew said. "In the coming weeks, we will learn more about the additional needs of our rural health care system, farmers, and rural communities, and we urge Congress to be ready to address them."
The bill, which is the most expensive in the country's history, provides $130 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for local and state governments, direct payments to individuals, and $300 billion in financial aid for small businesses. Several provisions are of particular interest to National Farmers Union (NFU):
- $185 million to support rural critical access hospitals, rural tribal health and telehealth programs, and poison control centers.
- $25 million to improve access to distance learning and telemedicine through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development.
- $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which is used to stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices through initiatives like the Market Facilitation Program (MFP).
- $9.5 billion to help specialty crop growers, farmers who support local food systems, dairy farmers, and livestock producers.
- A temporary three-month extension on repayment of commodity marketing assistance loans, from nine months to a year.
Rural Businesses and Communities
- The availability of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to cooperatives with fewer than 500 employees.
- $100 million to improve access to rural broadband through the ReConnect program.
- $20.5 million to support an additional $1 billion of lending through USDA's Rural Development Business and Industry Loan Guarantee program.
- $15.5 billion in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to assist more participants. This will not increase benefit levels for individuals.
- $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs.
- $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Read the National Farmers Union news release- available here.
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