Late Sunday night, the U.S. House and Senate leadership reached agreement on a $908 billion COVID-19 stimulus package that will bring a desperately needed financial infusion into the U.S. fresh produce and floral industries. The package is expected to be approved by the full House and Senate today and the President has indicated he will sign it.
The package includes key programs that will benefit a number of sectors of the economy, including:
- Funding of $284 billion for continuation of the Paycheck Protection Program small business loans that helps employers keep workers who otherwise might go on unemployment
- Stimulus checks of up to $600 for individuals
- $300 a week in enhanced unemployment insurance
- 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for six months
- $400 million in Emergency Food Assistance Program, which will help food banks meet surging demand
Key provisions specifically related to agriculture include:
- Increased spending for ag producers and processors impacted by the economic fallout of the coronavirus (supplement to CFAP assistance program)
- $1.5 billion for commodity and food purchases
- $100 million for specialty crop block grants
- $75 million for Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program
- $20 million for Agricultural Research Service
- $7 billion for rural broadband
“This funding infusion is desperately needed by our industry, which has been devastated by business closures and lost markets,” stated Richard Owen, legislative and regulatory affairs team lead for PMA. “For some businesses, it’s already too late. But we are now focused on strengthening all sectors of the industry for a recovery period in 2021. This funding serves as an important bridge and we are grateful to Congress for recognizing the need.”
PMA will continue to monitor and update members on the COVID-19 stimulus package as it is approved and implemented.