U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today released the following statement after the administration announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be rolling out the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which includes $16 billion in direct payments to livestock, dairy, specialty crop, and row crop producers. The program, the creation of which was mandated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, also includes $3 billion in USDA-backed purchases of U.S. agriculture products. Thune fought to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation and provide additional emergency funding in the CARES Act, which is now being used to support farmers and ranchers in South Dakota and around the country. Following enactment of the CARES Act, Thune led letters urging USDA to provide assistance to cattle and pork producers.
“The agriculture community has faced one hurdle after another these last few years,” said Thune. “As if bad weather, multiple trade disputes, and poor commodity prices weren’t bad enough, farmers and ranchers are now dealing with the effects of a global pandemic, too. This critical relief funding won’t fix everything they have been dealing with, but I hope it creates some greater certainty in these highly uncertain times.
“The coronavirus crisis has underscored the important role agriculture producers play in our day-to-day lives. For example, fully stocked grocery store shelves are no longer taken for granted. So while it can’t be said enough, on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to say ‘thank you’ to our nation’s farming and ranching community. The American people have learned that heroes truly do come in unlikely forms these days.”