Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a group of colleagues in urging Senate Leadership to support the inclusion of additional assistance for America’s agriculture in future coronavirus response legislation.
“As you are aware, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted every sector of the U.S. economy, and agriculture is no exception,” wrote the Senators.
“Thanks to your leadership, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act includes $20 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide relief to producers facing challenges caused by COVID-19. These funds would give USDA the resources to assist producers and processors whose operations have been threatened by the economic impact of the pandemic, the Senators continued. “As Congress continues deliberations on legislation to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, we must support the men and women that provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation.”
Senator Collins has helped to lead bipartisan efforts in Congress to direct more support to farmers. Recently, she announced that, following her advocacy, Maine farmers have received more than $22 million in funding thus far through the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Additionally, she co-signed a series of letters to the USDA, urging Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize assistance to Maine farmers, including those in the dairy, potato, and blueberry industries.
Senator Collins has also worked to ensure that Maine benefits from the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, a component of CFAP, that is supporting farmers with up to $3 billion in purchases of fresh produce, dairy, and meat and distributing these products to low-income Americans in need. After no Maine distributors were awarded a contract in the first tranche of funding, the Maine Delegation successfully urged USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to rectify the program’s shortcomings, resulting in contracts of $2.14 million and $1.35 million being awarded to the Maine Farmers Exchange MFX) and Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods, respectively. Senator Collins participated in a Food Box distribution event in Van Buren facilitated by MFX, and helped assemble Food Boxes at Native Maine’s Westbrook facility.
In addition to Senator Collins, the letter was signed by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Boozman (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Michael Rounds (R-SD).
Click HERE to read the full letter.