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What The Proposed Coronavirus Relief Bills Would Do For Agriculture

  • Both the HEALS Act and HEROES Act propose billions of dollars in funding for agricultural producers affected by COVID-19
  • Bills include relief for meat producers forced to euthanize healthy animals due to backlog in animal processing
  • Agricultural processors such as textile mills and ethanol plants would also see financial support

The U.S. Senate’s recently proposed HEALS Act to provide a second round of COVID-19 relief would provide billions of dollars in relief to agricultural businesses. An analysis by the Farm Bureau, a nonpartisan advocacy organization representing farms and ranches, says the measures are similar to those in the HEROES Act proposed in the House, but that the HEALS Act allows for more flexibility.

The HEALS Act provides for $20 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on top of $23.5 billion previously approved under the CARES Act. This funding would support agricultural growers, producers, and processors impacted by the coronavirus, and the bill specifically references livestock and poultry farmers forced to euthanize healthy animals due to a backlog in animal processing.

The Farm Bureau noted how the funding provides broad authority will give the USDA more flexibility in allocating support. Recipients could include independent or contract farmers, growers forced to destroy crops due to a drop in demand, biofuel producers, and domestic users of cotton such as textile mills.

The HEROS Act proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives offers similar provisions but contains more detail on how the funds should be spent. The bill provides for $16.5 billion in direct support to the USDA and up to $33 billion in other agricultural and conservation funding.

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