Ensure Farmers and Families Get the Support They Need in the Next Coronavirus Aid Package
Congress is working on its fourth pandemic aid package and food system workers, and families still have needs that Congress can address. Fortunately, there are several bills that could make it into the fourth aid package – but we need your help to ensure that happens! Email Senator Blunt and Senator Hawley today and tell them to co-sponsor these bills! Be sure to include the bill number. Co-sponsorship builds the political momentum to help ensure that these bills move forward and get included in the final aid package.
Below are the bills MCE and our partners are supporting:
SNAP Online Delivery Support
Food Assistance for Kids and Families During COVID-19 Act of 2020 ( S. 3563) – Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT); Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). This bill would authorize public-private partnerships between the USDA, authorized retailers and community based organizations to support food delivery to SNAP users and provide funding to support grocery delivery for program participants who are seniors, immunocompromised individuals and others unable to travel safely to a retail food outlet such as a grocery store or farmers market.
Relief for Small-Scale Farmers
New Markets for State Inspection Meat and Poultry Act (S.2814) – Senator Rounds (R-SD). This bill would allow meat and poultry products inspected by Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) approved state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines. Currently, there are 27 states with inspection programs “at least equal to” federal meat and/or poultry inspection programs.
Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act (S.3602) – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Representative Sean-Patrick Maloney (D-NY). The bill would forgive USDA FSA direct loan debt up to $250,000 for farmers with adjusted gross income up to $300,000 (over the past 5 years). Unlike many other loan forgiveness programs, this bill would ensure that farmers who receive forgiveness maintain their ability to borrow from FSA in the future, as well as eliminate tax liability for the forgiven debt.
Farmers Feeding Families – Coronavirus Response Act (S.3655) – Representatives Kim Schrier (D-WA), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME); Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). This bill will bolster the ability of food banks and food assistance programs to meet the needs of growing numbers of food insecure, while also providing much needed additional funding for purchases from small and medium farmers, by providing funds directly to States and state agencies and their food-bank partners. Includes funding set-asides to ensure targeted purchases of food from producers who rely on local agricultural food marketing—such as farmers’ markets, farm-to-table restaurants and farm-to-school programs.
- Food Supply Chain Support (S.3840) – Sen. Stabenow (D-MI). This bill would include infrastructure grants to food banks and nonprofits to help increase their capacity and address growing demand, as well as grants to support new food partnerships that increase donations to food banks and decrease food waste through funding to states and tribes to purchase surplus food and a USDA Donation Reimbursement Program. The bill also includes provisions and funding to assist producers, handlers of agricultural products, and food processors and manufacturers with covering the associated costs of necessary changes and upgrades to practices and equipment to improve food safety in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food Safety Inspector Relief
Inspector Overtime Relief for Small Plants (S.3797/ H.R.6977) – Senator Moran (R-KS). Right now, USDA pays for the required food safety inspectors for all federally inspected plants. For all hours over 40 hours per week, the small plants must pay USDA overtime fees at around $80 an hour. Some small plants who operate on thin margins cannot afford these fees. USDA would use the funds appropriated to help pay some of the full overtime fee to inspectors. This bill would reduce fees for small and very small plants for 18 months.
Email your Senators’ legislative staff:
Dan Burgess, Legislative Director for Senator Blunt: [email protected]
Joshua MacGregor, Legislative Assistant for Senator Hawley: [email protected]
Not from Missouri? Find your Senators’ contact pages here.
Sample email script:
Hello [legislative staffer’s name],
Please forward this message below to Senator _____:
Dear Senator ____,
[My name is ____ and I am a constituent from _____, Missouri.]
[Include a basic description of the bill and the bill number, which can be found above]
[Please share how the bill will have impacts / value in your community or across the state]
Please cosponsor [bill name and number].
Thank you for your time and consideration.