There is no doubt America relies on our farmers and ranchers to provide a strong, safe, and stable food supply. In times such as the current COVID-19 situation, their importance is even more obvious.
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 CARES Act, recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, provides emergency funding and replenishes the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19. However, this aid has yet to be implemented. We owe a great deal of thanks to our producers for feeding America, and it is absolutely vital this aid is administered as quickly as possible.
For this reason, I have been working on several fronts to strengthen our producers to get us through this difficult time. Along with the Nebraska delegation and over 100 other members of Congress, I wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue urging implementation of assistance for producers as quickly as possible. In addition, I joined several of my colleagues to write a letter to Secretary Perdue urging USDA to provide relief to pork producers impacted by the closure of the Smithfield Sioux Falls plant, and I participated in sending another letter to provide immediate assistance to the hard-hit dairy industry.
We also need to ensure our biofuels industry is not left behind. In recent years, demand for ethanol has been at record numbers. However, the stay-at-home orders have taken a drastic toll on fuel consumption and with it the demand for ethanol production. Our ethanol producers, through no fault of their own, are now faced with severe market disruptions and closures of plants. Many depend on ethanol production, from corn producers at the front end, to livestock growers who feed their cattle spent grain, to refiners and retailers who use it to increase octane and reduce emissions. Because of this, I joined the House Biofuels Caucus in sending a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging USDA to provide direct relief to the biofuels industry from the CARES Act programs.
We are all in this fight together, each doing our part in our different roles. Those who are producing the food we eat must receive the resources necessary to weather this storm. I appreciate the President and his administration for including rural America in their response, and I will continue to ensure these programs work for rural America.