The American Farm Bureau Federation, as well as other groups, highlighted some of the specific provisions for agriculture in the $900 billion aid package, as well as the $1.4 trillion overall government funding bill and tax-extenders package.
Congress passed the package late Monday night.
Nearly $1 billion will support a dairy donation program and supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments for small and medium-sized producers. More help will be made available to specialty and non-specialty crop growers, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be expanded, which will allow small farmers to continue operating and paying their employees.
Many farmers and ranchers who were previously left out of aid will now qualify for assistance, including growers who were forced to euthanize livestock during the initial wave of the pandemic.
The American Farm Bureau Federation worked for several months to ensure the needs of America's farmers and ranchers were brought forward to lawmakers as they considered the latest stimulus package.
“We're pleased that Congress understands the toll the pandemic continues to take on farmers, ranchers and rural Americans,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers who were left out of previous aid packages or whose losses were far more devastating than recognized in initial aid are grateful that their families will be helped, too. We recognize the need is great across our entire economy and farm families will join the rest of America in our determination to recover from the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Highlights of the coronavirus stimulus bill include:
- 80% reimbursement for losses due to premature euthanization or canceled orders.
- $20 per planted acre for non-specialty crops. Farm Bureau highlighted that, based on 2020 crop acres, that likely breaks down to $1.8 billion for corn producers; $1.66 billion for soybeans; $886 million for wheat; $242 million for cotton; and $116 million for sorghum.
- Crop insurance payments and disaster payments may be used to calculate 2019 sales.
- $7 billion is allocated for broadband, including $300 million for rural broadband and $250 million for telehealth.
- PPP funding may be used for COVID mitigation expenses.
- Expenses paid with PPP loans will now be allowed as a tax deduction.
- 15% increase in SNAP benefits.
Along with those provisions, the bill also adds funds to the Wildfires Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP-Plus) to ensure remaining WHIP-Plus applications are paid.
The Livestock Mandatory Reporting law is extended through 2021. Perhaps Congress will find time to hold hearings over the next year on issues with the current law.
The National Grain and Feed Association noted that another key element in the year-end package was the addition of the latest Water Resources Development Act as well. The bill, commonly known as WRDA, will lower the funding cost share for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund from 50% to 35%, and increase the costs from general federal revenue for those projects from 50% to 65%. The shift in cost share will boost the number of projects that can be funded annually with an additional $100 million available for lock-and-dam renovations. The bill would authorize 46 new waterway projects nationally, ranging from port upgrades to improving locks, dams and flood gates, as well as 27 different feasibility studies for future projects.
For biofuels, Growth Energy noted the bill extended a number of critical tax credits for the industry, including a one-year extension of the Section 40 Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, a $1.01 credit per gallon of second-generation biofuel produced; and two-year extension of the Section 45Q Tax Credit, a credit on a per-ton basis of carbon dioxide that is sequestered.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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