U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.), alongside a bipartisan group of his colleagues,has sent a letter to President Trump urging him to eliminate payment limits for livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
The COVID-19 crisis has caused significant damage to agriculture operations across the country. The CARES Act provided $23.5 billion to support farmers and ranchers, including $9.5 billion for livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers, as well as farmers supplying local food systems. This assistance provided through the CFAP will help provide farmers and ranchers with critical relief. However, the payment limits included in the CFAP will significantly reduce the program’s effectiveness for many family-owned farms and ranches facing extraordinary losses due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented damage to the livestock, dairy and specialty crop industries,” the senators wrote. “Agricultural economists have estimated over $13 billion in harm to the cattle industry and $5 billion to the pork industry due to the pandemic, with many billions more in injury to dairies, fruit, nut, and vegetable producers, and the horticulture and floriculture industry. As is true for many other small businesses across the country, this financial harm comes through no fault of these farmers and ranchers, nor is it the result of typical market forces. As such, these relief payments should aim to indemnify as much loss as possible without restrictive payment limitations.”
This letter was cosigned by Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.).
This letter is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, AmericanHort, American Sugar Alliance, Farm Credit Council, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Potato Council, United Fresh Produce Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, and Western Growers Association.
Senator Jones has been a vocal advocate on behalf of Alabama’s agricultural community. He most recentlypushed the Small Business Administration to allow farmers and producers to access economic relief programs created by the CARES Act that they had previously been locked out of, including the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Industry Disaster Loan program.