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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Sam Graves (6th District of Missouri)

Washington, D.C. –  Congressman Sam Graves (MO-06) recently joined several colleagues to request that President Trump and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ensure that producers get equitable and adequate COVID-19 relief.

Graves said that COVID-19 has compounded the issues farmers were already facing.

“Last year’s flooding and trade negotiations combined with the coronavirus and the resulting supply chain issues have really put the squeeze on our producers. We’ve got to make sure they are able to fully take advantage of the assistance that Congress has passed. Agriculture is the lifeblood of North Missouri and ensuring that our farmers and ranchers are able to stay in business is critical,” said Graves.

Graves joined over 100 colleagues on a letter to President Trump requesting that COVID-19 related relief for our producers is effective and as immediate as possible as USDA begins the rule-making process. 

Specifically, the letter highlights the concern that there will be a severe gap between producers’ losses and USDA’s aid. The letter implores USDA to include all producers and to take care to not limit payments simply on the basis of income, risk management practices, or past USDA payments. Further, the letter notes Congress’ $14 billion replenishment of the Credit Commodity Corporation and requests USDA include the funds in the relief package.

Graves also joined more than 125 colleagues requesting the President to eliminate payment limits for specialty crop, livestock, and dairy producers before the final Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) details are announced.

On Friday, April 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the CFAP as part of its plan to implement funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CFAP includes $2.1 billion for direct payments to specialty crop producers and at least $100 million per month in specialty crop purchases. For many family agricultural operations, this support will mean they are able to stay in business and pass farms and ranches on to the next generation despite these challenging times.

Unfortunately, the direct payments included in the CFAP are contingent on payment limits that do not take into account the cost of agricultural labor for many crops, including specialty crops. According to the CFAP summary released by USDA, producers will be eligible for no more than $125,000 per commodity, with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. These payment limits would severely restrict the program’s effectiveness for many family-owned farms and ranches across the nation.

The members wrote, “…We are concerned about the $125,000 per commodity and $250,000 per individual or entity payment limits as it relates to assistance for the livestock, dairy and specialty crop sectors. This limitation would severely restrict the program’s effectiveness for many family-owned farms and ranches across the nation. We strongly urge you to eliminate payment limits for livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers before the final CFAP program details are announced.”