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Additional COVID relief funding targets farmers, ag businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three Congressional representatives from Minnesota announced Thursday that the United States Department of Agriculture will offer additional aid to agricultural producers and businesses as part of its Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative.

This announcement follows a letter from the legislators calling on the agency to expedite relief payments to farmers, livestock producers, biofuel processors, and timber harvesters and haulers. U.S. senators Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and Tina Smith, D-MN, and Representative Angie Craig, D-MN, are members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee,

“The coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for the entire agriculture industry and many rural communities across Minnesota,” Klobuchar said in the announcement. “Agricultural producers and businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we must ensure they have the resources they need to keep our supply chain strong and competitive. By getting this relief out in a timely manner, we are doing just that.”

Within the next 60 days, the funding below will be distributed:

• About $700 million to biofuels producers.

• About $200 million to small, family-owned timber harvesting and hauling businesses

• Support for dairy farmers and processors. Dairy Donation Program to receive $400 million to the new to address food insecurity and mitigate food waste and loss. Additional pandemic payments targeted to dairy farmers that have demonstrated losses that have not been covered by previous pandemic assistance. And approximately $580 million to supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage for small and medium farms.

• Assistance for poultry and livestock producers left out of previous rounds of pandemic assistance, including contract growers of poultry and livestock and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals during the pandemic.

• Also, $700 million for Pandemic Response and Safety Grants for personal protective equipment and other protective measures to help specialty crop growers, meat packers and processors, seafood industry workers, among others.

• Up to $20 million to additional organic cost share assistance, including for producers who are transitioning to organic.

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