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Baldwin Leads Bipartisan Group of Senate and House Members Calling for More Support for Farmers, Agriculture Economy in Next COVID-19 Relief Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) today called on Congressional Leadership to include the Farming Support to States Act in the next COVID-19 relief package. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would provide federal funding to states and other stakeholders to help support America’s agriculture economy and respond to disrupting issues in the food supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the members wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a variety of unusual market conditions and temporary disruptions in parts of the food supply chain, and our farm and food businesses have worked together to minimize the impacts on consumers. Now they are predicting new challenges in the late summer and fall, with harvests modified to keep workers safe, uncertainty in school food service contracting, and additional unpredictable disruptions on the horizon. The Farming Support to States Act would allow for nimble responses to emerging issues so that our food supply remains as stable as possible in these challenging times.”

The members continued, “To get ahead of potentially catastrophic impacts to the food supply and keep food moving, we must get resources into the hands of the people best situated to develop smart, tactical responses: the people who work in this industry. This approach would get resources to the on-the-ground experts in our communities and across the agriculture industry; it would leverage local solutions to local problems as they emerge this fall.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause severe impacts across America’s agricultural economy. Introduced in May, the bipartisan Farming Support to States Act would help address this challenge by increasing the reliability of food access, stabilizing food supply chains, addressing the challenges of keeping the workforce safe and on-the-job, responding to severe food supply disruptions, preventing and reducing catastrophic losses of livestock, milk, produce and other products, and stabilizing our rural economies by reducing the impact of agriculture market shocks and panicked herd and farm liquidation.

The legislation is supported by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

“The recovery of the food and agriculture sectors is incomplete. There is huge unmet need for consumers and farmers.  State departments of agriculture have stepped up to the plate during this pandemic to help food producers stay safe and meet the needs of their communities. We urge Senate leadership to include the Farming Support to States Act in the next round of COVID-19 relief so that state departments of agriculture can leverage local solutions for local recovery of the food and agriculture supply chain. We thank Senators Baldwin, Collins, and King, and Representatives Torres Small and Johnson for leading this approach towards long-term recovery,” said Doug Goehring, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) President and North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner.

“Farmers and ranchers across America are fighting to hang on through this crisis, having already been hit hard with a down farm economy and reduced trade markets long before the pandemic reached our shores. We are proud to be growing the food that fuels this nation, but time is critical in getting food from the farm to those who need it most. Farmers, ranchers and their rural communities must be able to work quickly with state and local governments to address day-to-day needs on the ground. This bill is a welcome bipartisan effort to help our country get to the other side of this crisis,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

Today’s letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ed Case (D-HI), Angie Craig (D-MN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), David Cicilline (D-RI) and Susan Wild (D-PA).

The full letter to Congressional Leadership is available here.