COVID bill includes help for farmers
The new COVID Relief Bill contained much more than $600 for individuals. It did something the CARES Act of 2019 did not do; it included relief for agriculture.
"There are some good things for agriculture in the COVID relief bill," said U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-15) who is the new Republican leader on the Agriculture Committee.
"There is $11 billion in the bill not only our farmers and ranchers but our processors and contract livestock and poultry producers," explained Thompson. "Contract producers didn't qualify under the original CARES Act in March but they are included in this.
"It extends the terms for the marketing assistance program loans and helps our farmers and ranchers find a direct consumer market."
There is also some help for Americans having difficulty putting food on the table.
"There is one and a half billion dollars in there for the Secretary of Agriculture to purchase excess food and agricultural products from farmers and ranchers," said Thompson. "It allows him to distribute those products as part of the nutritional assistance for families that may have seen their finances disrupted by how a particular governor may be managing this COVID-19 funds."
Also important to this region is help for the forest products industry.
"There is money in here for people in forest products," reported Thompson. "They were not eligible the first time around. I was pleased to accomplish that."
An error of omission for dairy farmers was also addressed.
"Another priority I was able to achieve was for our dairy farmers," Thompson said. "We have a lot of small dairy farms in the area who have had negative revenue. They did not qualify for the paycheck protection program the first time around and I got that adjusted to gross revenue. They should be eligible."
Thompson is the first U.S. representative from this region to be named as the leader from either party on the Ag Committee.
"It is quite an honor to be the Republican leader on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee," said the recently re-elected Thompson. "I have served with Chairman (David) Scott from Georgia for 12 years. I think we will complement each other rather well. The Ag Committee is normally very bipartisan. Our focus is on doing what is best for agriculture and rural America. I suspect we can do that by working together."