Farmers & Rural Communities

Senator Baldwin worked to pass the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help provide immediate support for Wisconsin farmers and our rural communities. This bipartisan response from Congress will help provide economic aid to our agriculture economy during extremely challenging times that have gotten tougher now with this pandemic. We are all in this together, and Senator Baldwin will continue her work across party lines to take additional steps to help our farmers and rural communities get through this public health crisis and the ongoing economic challenges we face.

Resources for Wisconsin Farmers and Rural Communities

  • For information on direct payments to farmers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), please visit: 
    • Applications will be accepted through December 11, 2020. Wisconsinites seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee ready to offer general assistance.
  • For information on how to apply for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, please visit: 
    • Enrollment for the 2021 DMC program year starts Tuesday, October 13, 2020 and runs through December 11. 2020
  • For the latest information from USDA and coronavirus, please visit:
  • For a comprehensive COVID-19 federal resource guide courtesy of USDA, please click here
  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibility for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need. For more information, please visit:
  • For information on Rural Development loan payment assistance and application deadline extensions, please visit:
  • For more information on the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), please visit:
    • Update: SBA will is accepting new EIDL and EIDL Advance applications to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses. The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).
      • SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.
  • For more information on how Senator Baldwin took action to ensure the SBA's PPP and EIDL programs work for Wisconsin farmers, please click here
  • For more information on Senator Baldwin's actions to support Wisconsin farmers and our food service industry, please click here
  • For information on emergency internet resources and utility service help, please visit:
  • For information on the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline Program, which provides subscribers a discount on monthly telephone service, broadband Internet access service, or voice-broadband bundled service purchased from participating providers, please visit:

What relief is allocated for farmers and ranchers in the CARES Act?

  • $9.5 billion dedicated disaster fund to help farmers who are experiencing financial losses from the coronavirus crisis, including targeted support for fruit and vegetable growers, dairy and livestock farmers, and local food producers, who have been shorted from receiving emergency assistance in the past.
  • $14 billion to fund the Farm Bill’s farm safety net through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
  • Eligibility for farmers and agricultural and rural businesses to receive up to $10 million in small business interruption loans from eligible lenders, including Farm Credit institutions, through the Small Business Administration. Repayment forgiveness will be provided for funds used for payroll, rent or mortgage, and utility bills.
  • $3 million to increase capacity at the USDA Farm Service Agency to meet increased demand from farmers affected by the coronavirus crisis.

What does the CARES Act provide to assist small towns and rural communities?

  • $1 billion available in guaranteed loans to help rural businesses weather the economic downturn.
  • $100 billion to hospitals, health care providers, and facilities, including those in rural areas.
  • $25 million for telemedicine tools to help rural patients access medical care no matter where they live.
  • $100 million for high speed internet expansion in small towns and rural communities.
  • Over $70 million to help the U.S. Forest Service serve rural communities and reduce the spread of coronavirus through personal protective equipment for first responders and cleaning of facilities.

What is allocated for protections for consumers and our food supply in the CARES Act?

  • $55 million for inspection and quarantine at our borders to protect against invasive pests and animal disease.
  • $33 million for overtime and temporary food safety inspectors to protect America’s food supply at meat processing plants.
  • $45 million to ensure quality produce and meat reaches grocery stores through increased support for the Agricultural Marketing Service.
  • $1.5 million to expedite EPA approvals of disinfectants needed to control the spread of coronavirus.

What does the CARES Act provide to increase food access for families?

  • $15.8 billion to fund food assistance changes made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This funding will help families facing challenges and will help keep our agricultural economy and food processing sector running. With so many people preparing meals at home, restaurants and food service businesses have slowed their orders to many Wisconsin food processors, and jobs are on the line. These changes will help get our high quality food processed and distributed to consumers as they manage through this public health crisis.
  • $9 billion to fund child nutrition improvements made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • $450 million to provide food banks with additional resources for food and distribution.
  • $100 million for food distribution in Tribal communities to provide facility improvements, equipment upgrades, and food purchases.

Additional Information and Resources

For general information and resources about coronavirus for Wisconsinites, please click here.

For a section by section summary of the bipartisan CARES Actplease click here.


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