A new round of COVID-19 relief is set to go to a broader subset of farmers in 2021, promising to help parts of Wisconsin’s agricultural industry bounce back from the pandemic.
The USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers includes at least $6 billion in new programs and is aimed at parts of the industry that were left out of previous rounds of relief packages — including dairy farmers, smaller farmers, supply chain centers, renewable fuel producers and specialty growers.
“The pandemic affected all of agriculture, but many farmers did not benefit from previous rounds of pandemic-related assistance. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to helping as many producers as possible, as equitably as possible,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Our new USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative will help get financial assistance to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, small and medium sized producers, and farmers and producers of less traditional crops.”
In Wisconsin, the targeting should give the state’s agricultural industry a leg to stand on as it attempts to recover from the devastation of 2020.
“Those dollars are going to be used and needed,” Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) President Darin Von Ruden says. “Commodity prices have been fairly good over the winter months, farmers are hoping for a better year financially. The income coming in from the relief package will offset the losses we’ve seen over 2020.”
He added that non-agricultural aspects of the pandemic relief package could also help Wisconsin farmers by giving families more freedom to spend.
WFU government relations director Nick Levendofsky said that the farmers union established the importance of equity when it was formed in the beginning of the 20th century and these new programs continue that tradition.
“Even 119 years ago we recognized that equity, justice and the golden rule were important to farmers. Today they are as critical as ever, as we weather the pandemic,” Levendofsky said in a statement. “Pandemic recovery and relief remain critical to our farmer members as they navigate the market shifts and uncertainty.”