Tag Archives: COVID-19

Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota told the Hagstrom Report this week that he thinks the Senate coronavirus aid package will be similar to the House HEROES Act.

The two packages will contain similar amounts of money for agricultural assistance, but Hoeven says that the nutritional provisions will likely be up to Senate leadership. Hoeven is chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

He says USDA will start with the $14 billion that was previously allocated to the Commodity Credit Corporation but notes that Congress will push that number higher so that USDA will have as much as $35 billion in additional assistance for farmers.

Hoeven thinks the HEROES Act has roughly $68 billion set aside for agriculture and nutrition and that $33 billion of that is for aid to farmers and ranchers. USDA won’t be able to use the $14 billion in CCC money until July first. However, they can now use that money to pay out the rest of the $16.5 billion promised to farmers and ranchers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

The Senate bill gives the USDA the ability to make payments to ethanol plants and aid to livestock producers who had to dispose of animals they couldn’t get slaughtered.

A new analysis identifies 27 countries that are on the frontline of impending COVID-19-driven food crises, as the pandemic’s effects aggravate pre-existing drivers of hunger.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program report that no world region is immune. The joint analysis by FAO and WFP warns these “hotspot countries” are at high risk of, and in some cases are already seeing, significant food security deteriorations in the coming months, including rising numbers of people pushed into hunger.

These countries were already grappling with high levels of food insecurity and hunger even before COVID-19, due to pre-existing shocks and stressors such as economic crises, instability and insecurity, climate extremes, and plant pests and animal diseases.

The report says the pandemic may contribute to political instability as well as fueling conflict. In a bid to counter these trends, FAO released a revised appeal for $428.5 million under the UN system’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. The funds address the mounting needs in the food and agriculture sector.

LINCOLN, NEB. – As the Senate meets next week to consider a second stimulus package, farmers and ranchers continue to deal with the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Nebraska’s U.S. Senators, Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) President Steve Nelson offered a list of priorities to consider as the Senate looks to finalize the next round of COVID-19 aid.

“While this list isn’t meant to be all-encompassing, these are what we believe must be included in the final bill in order to aid Nebraska farmers and ranchers who have suffered significant economic harm due to the pandemic,” Nelson said.

The next round of COVID-19 aid must include additional funds targeted at providing direct monetary relief to Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

“Securing these funds for farmers and ranchers should be the number one priority as Congress finalizes this legislation. According to estimates compiled by NEFB, Nebraska’s agricultural economy could face nearly $3.7 billion in losses due to COVID-19 in 2020, if economic conditions do not improve. These losses have the potential to devastate the number one industry in our state and must be met with funds targeting both crop and livestock producers. More specifically, these losses will likely have a significant impact on younger farmers and ranchers who have fewer resources to fall back on during these difficult times,” he said.

NEFB also is urging Congress to reform the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. Both programs have been very helpful to many small businesses including farmers and ranchers. Yet, both programs need several important reforms.

In the letter, Nelson reiterated an ask from earlier this year to reform SBA’s, PPP and EIDL programs to better fit farm and ranch businesses. Those changes for PPP include:

  • allowing sole-proprietors to apply based on gross receipts to allow those with negative income figures to qualify for the program,
  • ensuring that all expenses paid with PPP loan funds be eligible for a business income tax deduction,
  • making all business-related rental payments eligible for loan forgiveness, and
  • expanding the list of what counts toward loan availability to include typical farm/ranch expenses.

For EIDL, Congress “must ensure continued access for farmers and ranchers while at the same time, making sure the program does not negatively impact their ability to secure loans from local lenders,” Nelson said

Nebraska Farm Bureau also asked for assistance for very small, small, and medium sized meat packing facilities.

“While we appear to be moving in a positive direction in terms of packing plant operations, the closure of these facilities over the past several months have highlighted the need to expand overall packing capacity. Now is the time for Congress to provide direct assistance and regulatory relief to smaller meat packing facilities to help create more competition in this very consolidated industry. Existing stand-alone bills which should be included in the final package include, the Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief for COVID-19 Act of 2020, the RAMP-UP Act, and the DIRECT Act,” Nelson said.

Expanding rural broadband capabilities within rural areas of Nebraska is also a high priority for NEFB. According to data compiled by Nebraska’s Rural Broadband Task Force, rural Nebraskans continue to have less access to broadband coverage than most of our neighboring states in both fixed and mobile services.

“To eliminate this gap, which limits our state’s economic and educational future, we support investment directed at broadband infrastructure expansion, implementation of the Broadband DATA Act, support for the Universal Broadband Act, and the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act. These measures will help provide more connectivity in rural areas of the state,” Nelson said.

  • Weather is the primary factor and a bigger factor then reports on Friday
  • Some much-needed rain will hit fields…then watch out here comes the heat
  • June first to present the U.S. corn belt there were two years that were hotter ’88 & 2012.
  • Ethanol production continues to increase
  • Money and coronavirus…deaths per week are at a low
  • How will COVID continue to effect meat demand

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) wishes to issue an important reminder to those applying for grants under the following programs: Small Business Stabilization, Livestock Producer Stabilization.

Be reminded that there are two major steps to completing an application. After filling out an online eligibility form, those who are eligible will receive a confirmation email containing a confirmation number and a link to the full application. You are not finished applying at this point. You must use the link to then complete a full application. Those who do not complete a full application will not receive a grant.

Remember that there is still time to apply for each of the grant programs listed and described below, which are intended to provide support and assistance to Nebraskans negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit https://getnebraskagrowing.nebraska.gov for more information or to begin the eligibility confirmation and application process. Call the Get Nebraska Growing hotline at 855-264-6858 if you encounter technical difficulties.

  • The Small Business Stabilization Grant Program provides grants to small businesses of 5-49 employees that were impacted by the coronavirus and meet certain eligibility requirements. Applications are due on June 26 at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

  • The Livestock Producer Stabilization Grant Program provides grants to eligible livestock producers of 1-10 employees that have endured revenue or employment losses due to the pandemic. Grants for both programs can be used to cover business operating expenses. Applications are due on July 1 at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

  • The Workforce Retraining Initiative will provide funds to all of the state’s community colleges for scholarships and workforce training enhancements. In turn, the community colleges will award scholarships to individuals who are unemployed or underemployed due to the coronavirus, in order to prepare them for employment in high-demand career fields. Prospective students will be able to apply for the scholarships online through Nebraska community college websites starting in July. More information is forthcoming.

  • The Rural Broadband Remote Access Grant Program will result in new internet connectivity in communities where work-from-home, tele-education and telehealth opportunities have been limited due to inadequate or non-existent high-speed internet service. Broadband providers, with the support of local community officials, can apply for the grants through July 2, 2020.

  • The Gallup Back to Business Learning Journey will fund admission to a Gallup-led leadership training course for a total of 75-100 leaders from eligible small businesses. The course promotes skills that will help businesses refocus and thrive following the pandemic. Businesses can apply through July 2, 2020.