The 2021 Omnibus and COVID Relief Package will help farmers and ranchers hurt by the continuing economic harm caused by the ongoing pandemic, says Montana Farm Bureau. Of the $900 billion in the stimulus package, the bill provides $13 billion directly benefits agriculture, including $11.2 billion provided to the Office of the Agriculture Secretary to supports ag producers, processors and contract grower impacted by the coronavirus.

Many farmers and ranchers who were previously left out of aid will now qualify for assistance, including growers who were forced to euthanize livestock during the initial wave of the pandemic. More help will be made available to specialty and non-specialty crop growers, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be expanded, which will allow small farmers to continue operating and paying their employees.

Farm Bureau worked for several months to ensure the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers were brought forward to lawmakers as they considered the latest stimulus package.

“This package will certainly help American families get through some tough winter months, especially those who have found themselves in dire circumstances through no fault of their own because of shut downs and work stoppages,” said Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson. “If it can stimulate processing facilities for agriculture products and restart demand, it will be good for all farmers as everyone agrees we want markets, not checks. However, we realize we may need a check in the short term so we can continue to provide the safest most abundant and economical food supply in the history of the world.”
Highlights of the coronavirus stimulus bill include:
  • Establishes a grant program for small meat and poultry processors to upgrade operations in order move to federal inspection or a state inspection program that allows for the sale of products across state lines.
  • Extension of Livestock Mandatory Reporting 
  • Extension of Electronic Logging Device exemption for livestock haul
  • Establishes a grant program to allow state departments of agriculture to supplement ongoing farm stress initiatives.
  • $20 per planted acre for non-specialty crops.
  • Crop insurance payments and disaster payments may be used to calculate 2019 sales.
  • $7 billion is allocated for broadband, including $300 million for rural broadband and $250 million for telehealth.
  • PPP funding may be used for COVID mitigation expenses.
  • Expenses paid with PPP loans will now be allowed as a tax deduction.
  • 15% increase in SNAP benefits.