Bipartisan, bicameral legislation provides Minnesota’s agriculture economy and food supply chain with the tools needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
May 21, 2020
Press Release

U.S. Reps. and colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee, Angie Craig (D-MN), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to address the urgent issues facing America’s agriculture economy and food supply chain caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Specifically, the Farming Support to States Act would provide states access to immediate, flexible funding to ensure farmers and rural businesses have the tools needed to respond and rebuild. U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the Senate.

As farmers and producers across the United States continue to face severe impacts from COVID-19, there is a limited time to act to avert the worst shocks to the nation’s food supply and rural communities. The bipartisan Farming Support to States Act would help address this challenge by increasing the reliability of food access; stabilizing food supply chains; responding to severe food supply disruptions; preventing and reducing catastrophic losses of livestock, milk, produce and other products; and stabilizing our rural economies by reducing the impact of agriculture market shocks.

“As family farmers and rural communities deal with the devastating consequences of COVID-19, we must step up and provide support,” said Rep. Craig. “The Farming Support to States Act is a common sense way for us to provide needed funds to farmers and rural businesses quickly and effectively. Minnesota’s local food processors have truly stepped up to the plate to help our producers during this difficult time. Investing in our food system improves our resiliency to withstand COVID-19 and far into the future.” 

“Over the past few months, New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers have faced unprecedented challenges – overnight changes in demand, unstable supply chains, and increasing losses – stretching our agricultural producers' resources to the limits. This pandemic has impacted every aspect of our rural way of life, but the federal response has not yet matched the severity of the crisis that rural communities are facing,” said Torres Small. “The Farming Support to States Act provides locally-directed funding through entities like State Departments of Agriculture, Tribes and Pueblos, and local offices of the Cooperative Extension System. This bill allows those entities to make urgently needed investments and provide meaningful relief to support  farmers and ranchers, helping to get them through this crisis.”

“Ag states like South Dakota have been uniquely impacted during COVID-19,” said Johnson. “We need to maintain a strong ag economy for decades to come. The Farming Support to States Act will give states like South Dakota the boost we need and the tools to deliver local solutions. I’m proud to support this legislation and fight alongside my colleagues for ag country.”

Plummeting agricultural prices have forced many farmers and processors to make tough choices. These large-scale financial losses have the potential to rapidly shrink our agriculture and rural economy, and direct assistance provided this year only covers a small portion of the losses at stake. 

The most efficient way to sustain agricultural economies across the country is to expand the capacity of states to work in partnership with industry and respond to rapidly shifting regional and sector-specific issues. Direct assistance to farmers will have a much more valuable impact if additional severe losses are averted through coordinated, targeted intervention.

The Farming Support to States Act would provide $1 billion for food and agriculture aid to states. USDA would allocate funds to all states and territories, with substantial funding targeted to states based on their contributions to regional and national food systems. Funds designated for a state could be requested by a Governor, State Department of Agriculture, or a range of other entities, with priority going to state entities and coalitions of stakeholders jointly applying. These funds will help absorb increased costs of necessary COVID-19 response actions that public, non-profit, and private entities face. They would also help states stand up responses to triage and manage the additional logistical costs of getting food to consumers and keeping the agricultural economy moving as much as possible. These actions are essential to keep supply chains running.

The Farming Support to States Act is supported by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Milk Producers Federation. The legislation received support from an array of bipartisan members, including original cosponsors Representatives Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA), Trent Kelly (R-MS), and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS).

Find more information on the bill here.

Find the bill text here.