WASHINGTON, (DTN) -- President Donald Trump signed the continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 11 early Thursday after the Senate passed the bill only hours before the end of the fiscal year.
The Senate vote was 84 to 10. Trump was in Duluth, Minnesota, for a campaign rally Wednesday night, but the White House released a statement shortly after midnight that he had signed the bill upon his return to Washington.
The extension of government funds also closes out the political fight over the Commodity Credit Corp., as the next year of traditional farm-bill programs begins. While the CCC fund was replenished, it now comes with some restrictions that will require notifications to Congress on any extra spending. The bill also prohibits CCC funds from being used to provide payments or aid to fossil-fuel refiners and importers.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; and farm and nutrition groups noted the importance of provisions that allow farm subsidies to continue to flow and hungry Americans to get food.
"In these wildly uncertain times, farmers, ranchers, and growers are counting on us to get this right. I'm proud to cast my vote to continue sending much-needed certainty and predictability to rural America," said Roberts. "I hope farm country can rest a little easier tonight knowing that funds for the Commodity Credit Corporation will be replenished to continue farm bill programs and assist producers who've been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic."
"Congress passed a strong, bipartisan farm bill and many of the key programs in that farm bill are funded by the CCC. That's why we worked so hard to ensure that this legislation provides the full $30 billion reimbursement of the CCC to fund essential programs for our farmers and ranchers," Hoeven said. "This CCC funding was not in the House's original bill, but with the support of our farm-state colleagues and farm groups, we were able to get a full CCC reimbursement included in the funding legislation passed by Congress. This funding will ensure that farm programs are provided on time for our producers, which is especially important this year given that our farmers and ranchers are not only fighting COVID, but low commodity prices and tough weather."
The bill also includes an $8 billion boost in nutrition programs. The includes $3.2 billion for an extension of Pandemic EBT benefits, $3.5 billion for an extension of child nutrition and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children] waivers, and $1.3 billion for the administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew said passage of the bill "is an immense relief to farmers, who depend on federally funded programs to access loans, technical support, and critical market and climate data." Larew added, "These services are always essential but are particularly so right now as we all cope with the added challenges the pandemic has introduced. Simply put, farmers and rural communities can't afford a shutdown, and we appreciate Congress' efforts to prevent that from happening. We strongly urge President Trump to sign this bill, which will not only keep the government running for the next few months, but also help hungry Americans access food and prevent oil corporations from taking advantage of programs meant to assist farmers."
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Kevin Ross said, "Farmers have worked with Congress for years to develop and implement effective risk management tools that ensure a stable feed, fuel and food supply even during the tough times many are facing today.
"NCGA thanks members of the House and Senate from both sides of the aisle who fought to ensure USDA has the budget flexibility necessary to deliver on the farm bill's commitments and support America's farmers and ranchers."
National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said, "This measure not only avoids a government shutdown, it also ensures that additional COVID-19 assistance can be provided as further needs arise and provides important nutrition assistance to families in need."
The Food Research & Action Center said the nutrition provisions "will go a long way in addressing childhood hunger, which has grown to even more alarming rates during COVID-19."
Share Our Strength Senior Vice President Lisa Davis said, "We commend the Senate for its bipartisan support of this legislation, which will help ensure that the more than 14 million children who currently do not have enough to eat will have access to food where they live and learn.
"Including both Pandemic EBT and child nutrition waivers in this bill is a victory for hungry kids, their families and the schools and community organizations working tirelessly to feed them," Davis added. "Pandemic EBT will help ensure no child misses a meal despite disruptions to their traditional school schedule. And, by granting USDA the authority and funding to extend waivers through Sept. 30, 2021, this legislation removes the last roadblock for Secretary Perdue to extend these waivers through the end of the 2021 school year, and we urge him to do so."
Center for Science in the Public Interest Deputy Director of Federal Affairs Colin Schwartz said, "Funding the government is the most basic job for both the Senate and the House, so no one in Washington deserves credit for averting a government shutdown. But it is nonetheless laudable that the continuing resolution passed by the Senate today provides funding to accommodate the growing needs of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the school meals program."
FRAC, Share our Strength and CSPI also said Congress needs to pass the second HEROES Act introduced by House Democrats. The measure would increase SNAP benefits by 15%.
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at email@example.com
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