Agreement advances many of Klobuchar’s legislative priorities, which include efforts to expand access to broadband, support food assistance programs, and provide relief to livestock producers
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that the bipartisan year-end agreement that passed the Senate and was signed into law included several of her key legislative priorities. Specifically, the law includes expanded funding for broadband, support for food assistance programs, and relief for livestock producers.
“Our rural economies have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and we have worked across the aisle on a package that will provide immediate support to our communities,” said Klobuchar. “The measure will expand broadband, support food assistance programs, and provide much needed relief for farmers, agriculture workers, and processors. Especially in this time of crisis, we must work to support a strong and competitive agricultural supply chain for both producers and consumers. There is more work to be done in the New Year, but this is a critical step in the right direction.”
“The MSCA is grateful for Senator Klobuchar’s dedicated effort in completing this COVID relief package,” said Allison VanDerWal, Executive Director, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a greater awareness of the complexity of the food supply system and this bill addresses many areas of that critical system. From additional funds for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, to grants for improvements of small to midsized meat processors to allow for interstate shipment, the cattlemen are thankful for the Senators dedication to work with all parties to get this package completed.”
“The package of relief passed by Congress and the President will go a long way in putting “Happy” into “Happy Holidays!” said Sarah Anderson, Executive Director, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “Grateful to Senator Amy Klobuchar and our Minnesota delegation for supporting these efforts to provide aid to turkey farmers impacted by COVID.”
“We appreciate the assistance provided to farmers that were put in a very difficult position,” said David Preisler, CEO, Minnesota Pork Producers Association. “This helps not only farms but more importantly the rural communities where they provide good jobs and economic development.”
The new law advances many of Klobuchar’s priorities, including measures to:
- Support small meat and poultry processing by providing $60 million in grants to small meat and poultry processors to make improvements necessary to expand their markets by meeting federal food safety inspection standards. Grants may be used for modernizing or expanding facilities, modernizing equipment, and implementing other processes to ensure food safety, based on Klobcuhar’s Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act with Senator Jerry Moran.
- Provide explicit authority to the Department of Agriculture to make relief payments to producers of advanced biofuel, biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, conventional biofuel, or renewable fuels with market losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, based on Klobuchar’s Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Act with Senator Chuck Grassley.
- Provide up to $3 billion for supplemental payments to cattle producers, contract growers of livestock and poultry, dairy farmers, and producers who lost livestock or animals due to insufficient processing capacity during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Provide $20 million for animal disease prevention and response capacity through the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). Klobuchar previously led efforts to expand the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) through legislation that became law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
- Provide $400 million for food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) with up to 20 percent for distribution of commodities.
- Provide $13 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) with up to 20 percent for State administrative expenses.
- Provide a 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for 6 months (through June 30, 2021) for all SNAP participants.
- Support food purchases, donations, and worker protection by including no less than $1.5 billion to fund purchases of food for distribution to those in need, and to provide worker protection measures, and retooling support for farmers, farmers markets, and food processors to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.