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Sen. Albrecht Weekly Update

Sen. Albrecht Weekly Update
Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature

Senator Joni Albrecht
WEEKLY UPDATE April 17, 2020

Patience is key as we wait to hear about re-opening Nebraska and the nation. So many changes to lifestyles throughout Nebraska and across the U.S. have resulted in harm to our economy, our agricultural goals, and challenges to daily work and family life. Though the virus is still with us, it appears we have worked together
through hopefully the worst of it. On Thursday, April 16, 2020, the President announced his 3-part plan for Re-opening America. True to the Tenth Amendment and common sense, the President provided the outline of a plan while recognizing the importance of placing leadership for the reopening with governors who know
their states.

COVID 19 UPDATES: By Friday, April 24, Nebraska will be at Day 15 of the Governor’s 21-day Stay Home and Stay Healthy request for Nebraska residents. Over the weekend, my office was notified that as of today there a total of 66 cases in Dakota County as of April 18, 2020. There was a false alarm over the weekend, but my office has confirmed that as of that date there was also one (1) case in
Wayne County. No cases have been reported in Thurston County. For update on the national numbers, go to https://www.cdc.gov/covid19 click on CASES in the
US.

WORK IN WASHINGTON and The CARES Act
Our federal delegation in Washington, D.C., continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation with an eye towards its impact on individuals, businesses, and agricultural operations in Nebraska. This week, Congressman Adrian Smith issued a letter
containing the following statement:

“Even as COVID-19 has closed much of America, our farmers and
ranchers continue to produce.  However, because of a multitude of
challenges, such as the precautionary shutdown of production
facilities and a dramatic shift in consumption from restaurants to
cooking at home, the current demand for food isn’t aligned with what producers expected when planting crops or birthing livestock. That is why supporting American agriculture and strengthening our food supply remains so vital during this pandemic.”

The recently passed CARES Act included stimulus checks for most
Americans, as well as emergency funding for businesses and replenished funding of the Commodity Credit Corporation for agricultural producers. Stimulus checks have been received by millions of Americans. Thanks to the efficient work of Nebraska bankers, Nebraska has been the number one recipient of small business funds made available by the CARES Act. The program ran out of funds last week, but members of Congress, the Senate,
and the White House are working for additional funding to help businesses stay at the ready for reopening.

Meanwhile, some funding for farmers and ranchers has moved more slowly and it is my understanding that members of the Nebraska federal delegation, along with leadership from the Farm Bureau, the State Chamber, and others have been working to facilitate more funding options and disbursement of aid.

As cattle producers we are aware, the CCC does not have a “cattle” provision included with provisions for crops, dairy and pork. However, the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the USDA received an additional $9.5 billion as part of the CARES Act that can be disbursed for specialty crops, farm-to-market programs and livestock. In further support of agricultural producers, the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended its emergency declaration that provides relief from certain rules or drivers in order to keep the food supply chain moving as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, the Secretary has informed us that the federal government will purchase the excess milk and other products about which many are concerned in order to aid producers and struggling food banks, families, and/or food distribution centers. The products will be purchased by the government and distributed to meet community needs through appropriate organizations.

For more information about the USDA authority under the CARES Act, go to www.USDA.gov and/or www.farmer.gov . To see the declaration regarding the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, go online to: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/expanded-emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002-relating-covid-19

Remember, the deadline for sending in your request for absentee ballots is May 1.

My husband and I are grateful to count our family among so many in District 17 and other Nebraska farmers and ranchers who work every day to feed the world.

As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov or by calling my office at 402.471.2716.

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