Thompson: Virus aid bill helps agriculture industry
The coronavirus relief bill that has been approved by Congress includes much-needed help for the agriculture industry, Congressman Glenn Thompson says.
"There are some good things for agriculture in the COVID relief bill," said Thompson, who is the new Republican leader of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. "There is $11 billion in the bill not only for our farmers and ranchers but our processors and contract livestock and poultry producers. Contract producers didn't qualify under the original CARES Act in March but they are included in this," he added.
Thompson said the bill "extends the terms for the marketing assistance program loans and helps our farmers and ranchers find a direct consumer market. It helps them financially."
There is also some help for Americans having difficulty putting food on the table, the congressman said.
"There is ($1.5 billion) in there for the secretary of agriculture to purchase excess food and agricultural products from farmers and ranchers," Thompson said. "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 COVID-19 funds," he added.
Thompson said help for the forest products industry is important for his district, and he said the bill also addresses those needs.
"There is money in here for people in forest products. They were not eligible the first time around. I was pleased to accomplish that," he said.
The congressman added that another priority for him is dairy farmers who need assistance.
"We have a lot of small dairy farms in the area that have had negative revenue," Thompson said. "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 said "it is quite an honor" to be the GOP leader on the Agriculture Committee.
"I have served with Chairman (David) Scott from Georgia for 12 years, and I think we will complement each other rather well," he said. "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," Thompson added.