The Senate is now debating the $1.9 billion covid relief package, which includes some BIPOC farmer assistance. Those provisions are based on a bill the Booker, Warnock et al introduced recently. Here’s a quick summary of the Ag and Nutrition provisions of the bill. Take a look at the end of this list for the BIPOC farmer assistance, and link to the bill at the end.
- Purchase of Agriculture Commodities and Food Assistance – A portion of $4 billion in total funding to purchase agricultural commodities from farmers and to support their delivery to families through non-profits, emergency feeding organizations, and restaurants.
- Strengthening Supply Chains – A portion of $4 billion in total funding to strengthen supply chains and build further resilience in response to the pandemic. That includes providing financial assistance for equipment and supplies for food processors, farmers markets and similar entities to respond to the pandemic and protect workers in a manner similar to Rep Kim Schrier’s (D-WA-8) Food and Farm Emergency Assistance Act and The Food Supply Protection Act, introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
- Supporting Small Processors – Financial assistance in the form of $100 million and overtime USDA fee relief that will help ensure processing capacity for small meat processing plants that have been at maximum capacity during the pandemic. Representative Angie Craig (D-MN-2) and Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD-AL), and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) for leading efforts to address costly USDA fees in their Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief COVID-19 Act.
- SNAP Benefits – Extension of the 15% increase in the maximum SNAP benefit included in the December COVID response package from June 30, 2021 to September 30, 2021.
- Online SNAP Expansion – Provides $25 million to USDA to support the expansion of online SNAP through investments in technology modernization and increased technical assistance. This is similar to the Expanding SNAP Options Act that was introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep Robin Kelly (D-IL-2) last year.
- Direct Aid for Black, Indigenous, and Farmers of Color – Dedicated funding to provide debt relief to Black, Indigenous, and farmers of color, as well as over $1 billion to improve land access, address heirs property issues, establish an equity commission, and create a legal center to provide legal advice and resources to BIPOC farmers.
Here’s the link to the actual bill that passed the House over the weekend. For the food and ag provisions, the bill that the Senate is considering is essentially the same as the House bill. The Food and Ag section is right up front so it’s easy to click on those sections to see actual text. Section 1006 is the $1 billion section for BIPOC farmers. https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1319/text#toc-H7EE34E60EEBE49D39355FFC28A665A04