Mar 27, 2020Agriculture included in $2 trillion COVID-19 rescue package
The U.S. Senate approved a $2 trillion COVID-19 Phase 3 rescue package by a vote of 96-0 on March 25. The bill now moves to the U.S. House, which is expected to debate the package on March 27 with a likely voice vote.
Here is the link to a summary of each section of the package, including SNAP and agriculture funding, unemployment insurance, small business loans and other provisions.
While details are still being released, of particular importance to the fresh fruit, vegetable and floral industries:
- Federal guaranteed loans totaling $350 billion to small businesses that pledge to not lay off workers. The loans would be forgiven if they continue to pay workers for the duration of the crisis. Here is a link to the details of the loan forgiveness program.
- $15.8 billion in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to cover food costs and any surge from the expected increase in unemployment and business closures.
- $9.5 billion for USDA to provide funding for aid to agricultural producers, including fruit and vegetable growers, affected by the virus.
- $450 million for commodity food purchases for emergency food assistance through food banks and other nonprofit groups.
- $33 million for FSIS to hire temporary and part-time workers.
Once the bill is finalized by the House and signed by the president, the Produce Marketing Association will keep you updated on the specific applications to the fruit, vegetable and floral industries as details become available.
— Richard Owen, vice president, global membership and engagement, Produce Marketing Association