Sending Office: Honorable Jimmy Panetta
The COVID-19 emergency presents an unprecedented threat to our domestic agriculture industry. Today, farmers, processors, and shippers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, working hard to keep safe, healthy product moving through the supply chain.
The CARES Act allocated $23.5 billion to assist agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, and livestock producers, including dairy producers.
On Friday, April 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its plans to implement these relief provisions as part of its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). For many family agricultural operations, this support will mean they are able
to stay in business and pass farms and ranches on to the next generation despite these challenging times.
Unfortunately, the CFAP includes payment limitations that do not take into account the cost of agricultural labor for many crops. These payment limitations would severely restrict the program’s effectiveness for many family-owned farms and ranches across
We are urging President Trump to work with USDA Secretary Perdue to eliminate payment limits for livestock, dairy, and produce farmers before the final CFAP program details are announced. Senators Feinstein and Moran are leading an identical letter in the
If you have questions or want to join this letter, please sign on
using this link by
Thursday, April 23, at 12:00PM.
Current list of signers:
Panetta, Simpson, Costa, Newhouse, Cuellar, Upton, Torres Small, Marshall, Vicente Gonzalez, McMorris Rodgers, LaMalfa, Diaz-Balart, Vargas, Murphy, Stefanik, Vela, McNerney, Fulcher, Dusty Johnson, Rouzer, Soto, Gosar, Yoho, Hastings, Carbajal, Dunn,
O’Halleran, Schrader, Gibbs, Haaland, Huffman, Ruiz, Mike Thompson, Anthony Gonzalez, Brownley, and Deutch.
List of endorsing organizations:
American Farm Bureau Federation, California Farm Bureau Federation, AmericanHort, United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers Association, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Milk
Producers Association, Michigan State Horticultural Society, Michigan Pork Producers Association, Michigan Agri-Business Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National
Pork Producers Council, National Potato Council, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, Society of American Florists
Jimmy Panetta, Mike Simpson, Jim Costa, Dan Newhouse, Henry Cuellar, Fred Upton, Xochitl Torres Small, Roger Marshall
Members of Congress
Dear President Trump,
Thank you for your announcement of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). For many family agricultural operations, this support will mean they are able to stay in business and pass farms and ranches on to the next generation of producers in spite
of these challenging times.
However, we are concerned about the $125,000 per commodity and $250,000 per individual or entity payment limits as it relates to assistance for the livestock, dairy and specialty crop sectors. This limitation would severely restrict the program’s effectiveness
for many family-owned farms and ranches across the nation. We strongly urge you to eliminate payment limits for livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers
before the final CFAP program details are announced.
The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented damage to the livestock, dairy and specialty crop industries. Agricultural economists have estimated over $13 billion in harm to the cattle industry and $5 billion to the pork industry due to the pandemic, with
many billions more in injury to dairies, fruit, nut, and
vegetable producers, and the horticulture and floriculture industry. As is true for many other small businesses across the country, this financial harm comes through no fault of these farmers and ranchers, nor is it the result of typical market forces.
As such, these relief payments should aim to indemnify as much loss as possible without restrictive payment limitations.
While some farmers and ranchers produce multiple commodities, and therefore will be eligible for up to the $250,000 total payment limit per individual or entity, many cattle, pork and dairy operations are solely invested in livestock. This common business
practice within the cattle, pork and dairy industries of being invested in a single commodity means this payment limit structure will be even more severe for these producers compared to other commodities. Fruit and vegetable producers by comparison can have
very high costs of production—strawberry producers can invest $30,000 an acre for example—and thus payment limits of this level are too restrictive to meaningfully address the losses many producers are facing.
It is critical for USDA to provide a level of support that is responsive to the disaster situation producers are currently facing. As you know, Congress approved $14 billion in the CARES Act to partially replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation and we
believe that a significant portion of these dollars should be used to ensure that needs are met, even if the payments must be paid in tranches.
We appreciate the support you and Secretary Perdue have provided farmers and ranchers, and we look forward to working with you make certain agricultural producers receive the level of assistance necessary in response to COVID-19.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0