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Ag assistance in COVID-19 legislation outlined

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s congressional delegation spoke with members of North Dakota’s agricultural community Monday about the assistance for agriculture included in the Phase Three Coronavirus (COVID–19) relief package and other efforts to assist agriculture during the pandemic.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law last week, provides:

– $14 billion to replenish Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing authority for the U.S Department of Agriculture.

– $9.5 billion in separate funding for USDA to help producers, including specialty crop and livestock producers, impacted by COVID-19.

– $1 billion in lending authority for the Business and Industry loan guarantee program.

– $100 million for the Reconnect broadband loan and grant program.

– $25 million for Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Broadband Program.

– flexibility for the Agriculture Secretary to extend the term of crops currently in the Marketing Assistance Loan from nine months to 12 months.

In addition, the Phase III legislation provides $80 million to help the Food and Drug Administration develop medical countermeasures and vaccines, advance domestic manufacturing for medical products, and monitor medical product supply chains, and $25 billion to meet increased needs for nutrition and food assistance programs.

“COVID–19 knows no vocational bias. It threatens every sector of our economy, including our agricultural producers, who already have to overcome recent extreme weather and natural disasters,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer.

The congressional updates from Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven and Congressman Kelly Armstrong were offered in a conference call organized by Gov. Doug Burgum and North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring for farmers, ranchers, commodity groups and other agriculture industry organizations.

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