As part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package, President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday that the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits approved last month should be extended through the end of this year. Biden, announcing his American Rescue Plan, vowed his administration would "tackle the growing hunger crisis in America."
Row crop farmers would see payments of $20 an acre and livestock producers would be compensated for animals culled during the pandemic under the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that was unexpectedly challenged by President Trump on Tuesday, a day after Congress passed it. The $13 billion bill includes a $400 million dairy donation program, aid to contract poultry growers, and assistance for textile mills and, potentially, ethanol refineries.
Congress allotted the same amount of funding for public nutrition programs that it did for agriculture in the new coronavirus relief bill, even though hunger is on the rise, wrote three economists on Tuesday. "An obvious way to address the problem would be to shift all or most of the $13 billion earmarked for farmers to federal nutrition programs that serve hungry families in real need," the economists said in an essay in The Hill.
Congress was expected to pass a $900 billion coronavirus package on Monday that includes a temporary 15-percent increase in SNAP benefits and up to $8.2 billion for farmers and ranchers. House and Senate leaders announced agreement on the package on Sunday evening. President-elect Biden, while applauding the package, said he will propose additional aid as soon as he takes office.
A bipartisan Senate coronavirus relief package would increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent through April and provide additional funding for WIC and food donations to food banks, according to a summary released on Wednesday.
The final coronavirus aid package of the year would direct 3 percent of its $900 billion in funding to food assistance and relief for agricultural producers, according to its Democratic and Republican sponsors. "It's a deal that must come together," said one of the sponsors, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on Sunday.
Despite the effects of the pandemic and the trade war, U.S. farm income this year will be the highest since 2013 because of the largest federal payments ever — $46.5 billion, triple the usual amount, the government said on Wednesday. Think tank analysts said farm income would fall in 2021 with the expiration of Trump-era bailouts, but the drop-off will be lessened by the ongoing rally in commodity prices and increased ag exports.
Farm income recovered this summer from the steep coronavirus-driven declines of last spring, according to ag bankers in the Plains and Midwest who took part in Federal Reserve surveys. "An influx of government payments and higher prices for agricultural commodities provided greater support for farm finances in the third quarter and seemed to limit demand for financing," said a summary by two Kansas City Fed economists.
The Trump administration wrote $7.6 billion in coronavirus checks to farmers in the past four weeks, pushing the total for relief payments to nearly $18 billion since the pandemic struck in the spring. The payments account for half of the record-large federal supports being paid to agriculture …
The Trump administration put an additional $500 million into the Farmers to Families Food Box, allowing the stopgap hunger-relief program will run through the end of the year. More than 110 million of the boxes have been delivered but the program has faced charges of inequitable distribution of aid.