Apr 24 2020
RED OAK, Iowa – After hearing from Iowa’s farmers and producers, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, is urging the administration to eliminate payment limits for Iowa’s livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers, so they can get the relief they need during COVID-19.
In a letter to the president, Ernst and her bipartisan colleagues write: “The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented damage to the livestock, dairy and specialty crop industries. Agricultural economists have estimated over $13 billion in harm to the cattle industry and $5 billion to the pork industry due to the pandemic, with many billions more in injury to dairies, fruit, nut, and vegetable producers, and the horticulture and floriculture industry. As is true for many other small businesses across the country, this financial harm comes through no fault of these farmers and ranchers, nor is it the result of typical market forces. As such, these relief payments should aim to indemnify as much loss as possible without restrictive payment limitations.”
“The COVID-19 crises has caused catastrophic economic damages to all pig farmers across the state of Iowa. Losses in Iowa alone of $2.1 billion are expected in 2020, according to economic studies. We fear the lifeline so desperately needed by farmers will fall short of what is truly needed. We appreciate Senator Ernst’s strong voice calling on the administration to swiftly deliver sufficient financial aid for Iowa pig farmers,” said Drew Mogler, Iowa Pork Producers Association.
"The market implications of COVID-19 and challenges faced in the processing sector will result in massive losses for Iowa's cattle producers," said Matt Deppe, Iowa Cattlemen's Association Chief Executive Officer. "Our family farmers desperately need increased assistance for the well-being of their farm operations as well as the rural economy as a whole."
This letter is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, AmericanHort, American Sugar Alliance, Farm Credit Council, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Potato Council, United Fresh Produce Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, and Western Growers Association.
The full letter can be found HERE.
Earlier this week, Ernst – in a letter to the vice president – called on the administration to ensure the U.S. maintains a strong, secure food supply chain. Ernst also joined a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to take immediate action to assist pork producers and maintain the pork food supply chain.
Since helping secure critical provisions for Iowa agriculture in the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package, Ernst has also:
- Called on USDA to provide immediate assistance to cattle producers,
- Pressed USDA to get additional relief to the biofuels industry through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), and
- Urged USDA to provide relief and support specific for the dairy farmers and industry.
In addition, Ernst successfully called on the SBA to ensure Iowa’s farmers are able to access the EIDL program, and as a result of the most recent relief package, farmers will have access to these loans. In the bipartisan package the president signed today, there is also increased funding for the EIDL program – which will help businesses, and now farmers, across Iowa.
Last week, Ernst hosted a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowa’s farmers and producers, and was joined by Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.