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Click here to watch the colloquy. Click here for the letter of support. 

WASHINGTON - Senator John Hoeven, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today led a Senate colloquy to outline the importance of supporting farmers, ranchers and rural America in legislation to provide relief from the impacts of COVID-19. Hoeven worked to include $50 billion in funding authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, however the legislation is currently being blocked from consideration.

The senator also worked with the American Farm Bureau to organize a letter of support from agriculture groups from across rural America.

“Agriculture, which supplies Americans with food, fuel and fiber, is one of our nation’s critical industries,”said Senator Hoeven. “Our farmers and ranchers are working overtime to deliver food to our grocery shelves across this great country. At the same time, they’re facing real challenges. As just one example, the cattle industry has lost between $7 and $9 billion over the past two months.  That’s just one sector of the agriculture economy. Congress needs to act and act now to ensure that farmers, ranchers, and rural America receive the relief they desperately need.”

“The men and women who raise cattle are a huge and critical component of how we earn a living in Kansas,” said Senator Jerry Moran. “According to Kansas State University research, since the arrival of coronavirus, there has been $8 to $9 billion in damages to the cattle industry across the country; that is hard to recover from. This is absolutely about feeding not only the rest of this country, but the globe in its entirety.”

“COVID-19 is affecting Nebraska agriculture, the economic engine of my state. With many other industries receiving assistance in COVID-19 relief legislation, we must make sure that our farmers and ranchers qualify for needed relief. That’s why I support an increase to the CCC program as a vehicle to help our ag producers in this tough time,” said Senator Deb Fischer.

“Anyone who has been on social media has seen the empty shelves in the grocery stores throughout the country,” said U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).  “The last shortage we need right now is within our American farmers.  We are going to be able to feed this country, but only if we keep the farmers in business.” 

“While we don’t know the full impact of this outbreak across the agricultural community, we do know this: Our producers are doing their part to keep the grocery shelves stocked and food on our tables. We need to do our part and provide the resources necessary to support them, which is why it is so important to get on this legislation and get it moving without further delay,” said Senator John Thune.

“Agriculture has been hit hard,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said. “The best thing we can do for all sectors of agriculture is to work together now to provide much-needed and overdue relief as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the country.”

Hoeven made the case for maintaining the following provisions as negotiations continue on the Phase III COVID-19: 

  • Replenishing $30 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding authority for the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Increasing the CCC borrowing authority an additional $20 billion for USDA to respond to COVID-19
  • Enabling USDA to utilize CCC funding to assist livestock producers, as well as other sectors of the agriculture economy.