WASHINGTON- Like many industries, the agriculture community is being ravaged by the coronavirus. The U.S. Agriculture Secretary says he’s working to get direct aid to farmers quickly.
After a year of historic floods and crippling trade fights, Iowa Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne says the coronavirus was the last thing U.S. farmers needed.
“It’s just a hit, one more hit,” reflected Axne.
“They’re bleeding money,” said Michael Nepveux with the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Nepveux says the pandemic has sent crop and livestock prices spiraling.
“What would you do if 40% of your income just disappeared?” asked Nepveux. “That’s the position a lot of these farmers are in.”
With restaurants and schools shuttered, some farmers are even dumping their own goods.
“They don’t have a place to take it,” Nepveux said. “The situation is pretty dire on the countryside right now.”
“We’ve got to make sure our farmers can weather through this,” Axne said.
In a Tweet Thursday, President Trump called on U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to expedite emergency aid to hurting farmers.
The last stimulus package Congress set aside $9 billion in emergency aid to help farmers. But now the Farm Bureau and lawmakers say it’s going to take more money to ensure family farms don’t go under.
Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis says agriculture funding now is vital to protect the nation’s food supply in the future.
“Because if not, we’re going to see shortages. We’re going to see high prices and that’s exactly what our consumers and families don’t need,” said Davis.
And Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois says that funding must include ethanol producers who’ve seen demand slashed.
“People aren’t driving,” said Bustos. “These are our corn farmers.”
Secretary Perdue says details on agriculture programs will be out soon.
In total, the last stimulus package gave nearly $50 billion for the Department of Agriculture.
The bill also made farmers eligible for the more than $300 billion in small business loans program.
Some lawmakers say they want to include more agriculture funding.