The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer additional aid to agricultural producers and businesses as part of its Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative, according to a recent announcement by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN), members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and Representative Angie Craig (D-MN).

The announcement follows a letter from the legislators calling on the agency to expedite relief payments to farmers, livestock producers, biofuel processors, and timber harvesters and haulers.

“The coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for the entire agriculture industry and many rural communities across Minnesota,” said Klobuchar. “Agricultural producers and businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we must ensure they have the resources they need to keep our supply chain strong and competitive. By getting this relief out in a timely manner, we are doing just that.”

"Minnesota farmers, businesses, small towns and rural areas were all hit hard by the pandemic," said Smith. "This funding will help farmers, ranchers, foresters, biofuel processors and businesses rebuild after facing more than a year of serious challenges during COVID. From addressing supply chain disruptions to market volatility, this funding is important to the rebuilding effort. I'll keep working to direct much-needed federal relief to Minnesota communities."

Within the next 60 days, the funding below will be distributed:

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  • $700 million to biofuels producers

  • $200 million to small, family-owned timber harvesting and hauling businesses

  • Support for dairy farmers and processors:

    • $400 million to the new Dairy Donation Program to address food insecurity and mitigate food waste and loss
    • Additional pandemic payments targeted to dairy farmers that have demonstrated losses that have not been covered by previous pandemic assistance
    • Approximately $580 million to supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage for small and medium farms
  • Assistance for poultry and livestock producers left out of previous rounds of pandemic assistance:

    • Contract growers of poultry
    • Livestock and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals during the pandemic (March 1, 2020 through December 26, 2020)
  • $700 million for Pandemic Response and Safety Grants for personal protective equipment and other protective measures to help specialty crop growers, meat packers and processors, seafood industry workers, among others

  • Up to $20 million to additional organic cost share assistance, including for producers who are transitioning to organic

“As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, it’s absolutely vital that we give Minnesota’s agricultural producers the support they need to grow and succeed in 2021 and beyond,” said Craig. “I’m thrilled that these additional funds will soon be out the door – helping family farmers and businesses in rural America build a stronger and more resilient food system for years to come.”