WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin worked to provide relief for Wisconsin farmers and rural communities in the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law last week.
“We face a public health crisis that threatens our economy and I worked to deliver support for Wisconsin farmers and our rural communities. This bipartisan response from Congress will help provide economic aid to our agriculture economy in Wisconsin during extremely challenging times that have gotten tougher now with this pandemic,” said Senator Baldwin. “We are all in this together, so I will continue my work to take additional steps to help our farmers and rural communities get through this public health crisis and the ongoing economic challenges we face.”
The CARES Act provides:
Relief for Farmers and Ranchers
- $9.5 billion dedicated disaster fund to help farmers who are experiencing financial losses from the coronavirus crisis, including targeted support for fruit and vegetable growers, dairy and livestock farmers, and local food producers, who have been shorted from receiving emergency assistance in the past.
- $14 billion to fund the Farm Bill’s farm safety net through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
- Eligibility for farmers and agricultural and rural businesses to receive up to $10 million in small business interruption loans from eligible lenders, including Farm Credit institutions, through the Small Business Administration. Repayment forgiveness will be provided for funds used for payroll, rent or mortgage, and utility bills.
- $3 million to increase capacity at the USDA Farm Service Agency to meet increased demand from farmers affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Assistance for Small Towns and Rural Communities
- $1 billion available in guaranteed loans to help rural businesses weather the economic downturn.
- $100 billion to hospitals, health care providers, and facilities, including those in rural areas.
- $25 million for telemedicine tools to help rural patients access medical care no matter where they live.
- $100 million for high speed internet expansion in small towns and rural communities.
- Over $70 million to help the U.S. Forest Service serve rural communities and reduce the spread of coronavirus through personal protective equipment for first responders and cleaning of facilities.
Protections for Consumers and the Food Supply
- $55 million for inspection and quarantine at our borders to protect against invasive pests and animal disease.
- $33 million for overtime and temporary food safety inspectors to protect America’s food supply at meat processing plants.
- $45 million to ensure quality produce and meat reaches grocery stores through increased support for the Agricultural Marketing Service.
- $1.5 million to expedite EPA approvals of disinfectants needed to control the spread of coronavirus.
Food Access for Families
- $15.8 billion to fund food assistance changes made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This funding will help families facing challenges and will help keep our agricultural economy and food processing sector running. With so many people preparing meals at home, restaurants and food service businesses have slowed their orders to many Wisconsin food processors, and jobs are on the line. These changes will help get our high quality food processed and distributed to consumers as they manage through this public health crisis.
- $9 billion to fund child nutrition improvements made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
- $450 million to provide food banks with additional resources for food and distribution.
- $100 million for food distribution in Tribal communities to provide facility improvements, equipment upgrades, and food purchases.
An online version of this release is available here.