U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a family farmer, and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, slammed Democrats for blocking crucial coronavirus relief, which included billions of dollars in assistance for farmers and agribusiness employees. The coronavirus pandemic is hurting U.S. agriculture particularly hard with historic disruptions to food supply chains.
“When the country locked down and counted on grocery stores to have full shelves, America’s farmers and frontline agricultural workers answered the call. They adapted to historic supply chain disruptions and overnight changes to the agricultural economy. Now farmers and agricultural workers are counting on Congress for help and Democrats are nowhere to be found,” Grassley and Ernst said. “By blocking crucial relief, Democrats show once again they care more about hurting President Trump than they care about helping rural America. Serious disagreements are to be expected when debating legislation of this size, but serious leaders should also be expected to put their differences aside and at least pass emergency relief that we can all agree is urgently needed. Today, Democrats failed that test.”
The Senate bill today blocked by Democrats provides $20 billion of additional farm assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). It emulates the approach in the CARES Act, giving the Secretary of Agriculture broad authority to address COVID-related impacts on farmers, ranchers, growers and processors.
The bill would also create a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which would provide billions of dollars in assistance for small agribusinesses with fewer than 300 employees and that demonstrate a 35 percent loss in gross revenue in a 2020 quarter relative to the same 2019 quarter. It also simplifies the forgiveness application process for current and future PPP borrowers receiving loans of under $150,000 or less.