The relief that Congress has offered American families and businesses over the last 11 months has proven pivotal to their ability to ride out the pandemic.
In a step towards passing a $1.9 trillion relief package, the House Agriculture Committee voted 25-23 in favor of the bill’s food and nutrition title. If passed, the legislation would set aside a total of $16.1 billion worth of support for farmers, hungry Americans, and rural communities, including $3.6 billion to protect food and farm workers, redirect surplus commodities to food banks, and build resilience in the food supply chain.
Additionally, it would extend a 15 percent boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the end of September, facilitate the distribution of vaccines to rural health care providers, help small-scale meat processors by offsetting the cost of overtime inspection, provide farm loan assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers, and award funding to minority-serving institutions, among other things.
Following the passage of the last stimulus bill, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew indicated that there is “a long road to recovery ahead” and urged lawmakers to “offer additional relief as needed.” In a statement on February 10, he said he was encouraged that the committee had made such significant progress in the development of another package and urged the full chamber to pass it quickly.
The relief that Congress has offered American families and businesses over the last 11 months has proven pivotal to their ability to ride out the pandemic. But NFU asserts it has by no means made them whole – far too many are still barely scraping by, living in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety. Not only is this not sustainable, but it also isn’t necessary; legislators can and should do everything within their power to help those who are hurting right now.
“We are encouraged that Congress is making substantial progress towards doing just that,” NFU said. “This package includes a number of meaningful food and agricultural provisions that will help alleviate food insecurity, ensure the health and safety of food chain workers, expedite vaccinations in rural communities, lift up historically underserved farmers, and build resilience in the food system.”
Individually, according to NFU, these objectives are certainly worthwhile, and collectively they will bring farmers several steps closer to a full recovery. NFU applauded the House Agriculture Committee for its efforts and urged the rest of the chamber to provide Americans with much-needed assistance by swiftly passing this bill.
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. It envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.
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