CARES Act Signed into Law
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th. The purpose of the bill is to provide emergency assistance and healthcare response to families and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act also includes several provisions offering support to agribusiness, farmers, and ranchers.
The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on farmers and ranchers. “The COVID-19 pandemic is causing serious damage to businesses across our country, including farms, agribusinesses, and the rural economy in general,” said Ben Rowe, national affairs coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The CARES Act will provide aid for those businesses, individuals and local governments,” Rowe continues, “Many rural businesses are small, and the bill will try to address their needs through programs for companies with 500 or fewer employees.”
The CARES Act includes $9.5 billion in assistance for agriculture producers who have been impacted by COVID-19, along with a $14 billion replenishment to the Commodity Credit Corporation. Also, the legislation contains $100 million in ReConnect grants to expand access to broadband in rural America for educational purposes, business, and access to critical telehealth services. The remaining $25.5 billion will support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, child nutrition programs, and enhanced staffing for key mission areas.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, released a statement regarding the CARES Act. “The passage of the Coronavirus response legislation will provide much needed relief to Americans across this country, especially workers and small-business owners who have been impacted by COVID-19. President Trump has made the safety and security of the American people a top priority during this national emergency, and this bill will help make Americans more financially secure. At USDA, we will deliver relief assistance to farmers and ranchers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue. “Americans across the nation are stepping up to the challenges facing them during these uncertain times. At USDA, we are doing our part to ensure those who need help will get it, whether it’s through nutrition assistance, ensuring the food supply chain is safe and secure, or through new flexibilities with our Rural Development loan programs.”