Three Farm Belt states get a quarter of coronavirus relief money

Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin, strung across the Farm Belt from the Great Lakes to the Great Plains, have collected one-fourth of USDA’s coronavirus relief payments, said a weekly update on Monday. Some $5.36 billion has been disbursed, at an average $14,684 per producer, from the $16 billion earmarked for agriculture.

By themselves, Iowa farmers, top in the nation for corn and hogs, received nearly $568 million, or slightly more than 10 percent of payments nationwide. Iowa led in payments for row crops and livestock. Nebraska, a leading cattle and grain state, was second with $389 million, followed by Wisconsin with $344 million. Wisconsin was the leading state for dairy payments, with $236 million.

California appeared to have the largest average payment, nearly $72,500, a reflection of its role as the leading producer of fruits and vegetables and top spot in dairy production. Some 3,617 operations in the state have received a total of $262 million so far.

President Zippy Duvall of the American Farm Bureau Federation said during a broadcast interview that additional aid will be needed beyond the $16 billion because of trade war, financial stress in the farm sector and the continuing effects of the pandemic. “All of that stuff is out of our hands,” said Duvall. “I would tell [lawmakers] we are in desperate need of continued support.”