American Rescue Plan: Agriculture

Overview 

The American Rescue Plan provides for $4 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide additional relief for farmersproducers, and processors, a portion of which will be allocated to Washington state. It also provides over $1 billion for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Details are below. 

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Assistance to Agricultural Producers, Processors, and Fisheries from USDA 
The American Rescue Plan provides $4 billion to the USDA to provide additional relief for agricultural producers, which will build off the $1.5 billion provided in the December omnibusOf the $4 billion, $3.6 billion of the new funds will be used: 

  • To purchase food and agricultural commodities and seafood, including for distribution to individuals in need in partnership with nonprofit organizations and restaurants; 

  • To make grants and loans to small or midsized food producers or distributors, seafood processors, and farmers markets to respond to COVID-19, including measures to protect workers; and 

  • To make payments for certain crop losses. 

USDA will use $300 million to conduct animal surveillance related to COVID-19 and $100 million is provided to reduce the amount of overtime inspection costs for federally inspected small and very small meat, poultry, and egg processors. 

The $4 billion from the American Rescue Plan is in addition to the $13 billion provided by the December COVID relief law, which included: 

  • $9.7 billion for assistance to farmers and ranchers, including specialty crops, and floriculture; and 

  • $1.5 billion to purchase food, agricultural products, and seafood for individuals in need. 

The December COVID relief law also included $300 million for the NOAA fisheries disaster assistance program established under the CARES Act (and also funded at $300 million under CARES). Interested parties should visit the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s site here for more information. 

Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (USDA) 
The American Rescue Plan starts to address the needs of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers by providing $1 billion to the USDA, which will be used for: 

  • Outreach, mediation, financial training, and cooperative development for socially disadvantaged groups; 

  • A commission to address racial inequity at the USDA; and 

  • Research, education, and extension/outreach at universities that serve socially disadvantaged groups, such as Tribal Serving institutions. 

Farm Loan Assistance 
The American Rescue Plan gives the USDA authority to provide farm loan assistance by making payments of up to 120% of outstanding agricultural loans as of January 1, 2021, to help farmers and ranchers from socially disadvantaged groups. 

Details on these new programs have yet to be determinedPlease check the USDA’s website on COVID relief for updates. In addition, the USDA’s Farm Service Administration (FSA) is expected to continue playing a central role in providing service to agricultural producers. Local FSA agents and offices can be found here.