Tag Archives: Funding

A coalition of lawmakers is asking the Health and Human Services Department to provide immediate assistance to rural hospitals and clinics. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, 122 lawmakers asked the Trump administration to provide financial aid included in the CARES Act to help rural hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The legislation includes new funding to provide financial relief for hospitals. The lawmakers point out that many rural hospitals have ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients. Lawmakers say the rural hospitals know the COVID-19 emergency confronting the U.S. must take precedence.

However, these actions threaten rural hospitals’ financial viability. The letter states, “We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash-on-hand – money needed for payroll and supplies.” The lawmakers say, “now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers,” adding “any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, late Wednesday night issued the following statement after the Senate passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes relief for farmers, consumers, and rural communities.

“This health care crisis is affecting every family across the country. The relief package will provide stability for our farmers and ensure the American people have a safe and stable food supply. Our bipartisan agreement includes targeted assistance to farmers who are experiencing severe financial losses during the pandemic, including fruit and vegetable growers, dairy farmers, and local food producers.

“The bill ensures that our small towns and rural communities aren’t left behind. It provides telemedicine resources, critical support for rural hospitals, and loans to help small businesses stay afloat.

“While this bill contains critical relief, I am deeply disappointed that including additional food assistance for children, families, and seniors did not have bipartisan support. I will continue to fight to get families the help they need during this crisis.”

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. Republicans and the Trump Administration blocked additional funding to expand benefits for children, families, and seniors.
  • $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.

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, Congress released language on its third stimulus package to aid those sectors of the economy impacted by COVID-19. As part of the funding, $14 billion was provided to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation to help agriculture, as well as a separate appropriation of $9.5 billion for livestock and specialty crops. A Senate vote is scheduled for later today, with the House expected to follow suit shortly thereafter. National Pork Producers Council President Howard “A.V.” Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin, had the following statement:

“There is nothing more essential than food and water. U.S. pork producers can’t telecommute and remain hard at work to provide pork products to American kitchens. But we have already suffered losses due to COVID 19-related concerns. These new financial setbacks come on the heels of two very difficult years during which pork was at the tip of the trade retaliation spear. We are pleased that the stimulus package includes funding for much-needed relief to livestock farmers, and we recognize a vote is pending. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to make sure that all pork producers can access this critically important lifeline as we remain committed to keeping food on American tables.”

LINCOLN, NEB. – It is the one-year anniversary (March 13-14) of one of the most disastrous storms to ravage the state in recent history, causing unprecedented flooding for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. Nebraska Farm Bureau was there to help, creating the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund and collecting $3.4 million to help restore health and safety to individuals and livestock on farms and ranches and in rural communities. One hundred percent of the donations have been distributed, with zero administrative fees charged.

“My calves were surrounded by water, standing there bawling for help. I felt helpless. But Farm Bureau got us hay for two and a half months. They lined up hay, feed, fencing supplies, veterinary supplies to help my sick calves. It was unbelievable what they did for us! I can’t say enough thanks to Farm Bureau for that,” said Tom Geisler who farms with his wife Fran outside of Hooper.

In Spencer, ice chunks 10 to 12 feet high, some the size of cars, took out the Spencer Dam and caused catastrophic damage to the Ruzicka farm, where Willard and his son Anthony, raise cattle near Verdigre. It also took out the water lines in Boyd County where half to two-thirds of county residents were served by the Boyd County Rural Water District. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund helped Ruzicka’s to rebuild, brought water to residents of Spencer and Verdigre, and helped restore the water lines in Boyd County. These are some of the people and places that were able to receive help from the money collected by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund.

“Our regional managers worked side-by-side with Nebraska farmers and ranchers and rural communities to help aid those affected by the challenging weather season. The generosity of people who wanted to help financially or just volunteer their time for clean-up was overwhelming. More than 6,000 individuals and companies donated to the fund. Volunteers have given countless hours of time transporting hay, feed, and veterinary supplies for Nebraska farmers and ranchers who had nowhere else to turn. While we hope this fund will not be needed in the future, we are glad to have a mechanism in place at Nebraska Farm Bureau to provide help to farmers and ranchers when it is needed the most. We stand ready and thank those who supported the flood relief efforts. You truly made a difference for so many individuals,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau, president.

The fund was established at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the ability to manage donations and relief distributions. The number of requests coming into the Disaster Relief Fund were overwhelming.

“We received a total of $35 million in unmet need requests to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund. Private gifts were critical to meeting the needs of those affected by the storms, especially the necessities needed immediately following the storms. We sent out our final disaster checks early this month to close the fund. We’re pleased to have worked with so many generous people and organizations in Nebraska and across the county who donated to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

Needs reported from relief applicants included debris removal; repair of personal property, including homes; fencing and feed for livestock; veterinary expenses; farm equipment and increased transportation costs due destruction of roads and bridges.

For Tom and Fran Geisler, Nebraska Farm Bureau helped them get through this difficult time.

“I don’t know if Tom would have made it through without Farm Bureau. They were right there on our doorstep after this disaster. They just came through for us,” Fran Geisler said.