This week, Congressman Bergman signed a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging swift implementation of relief efforts for growers, farmers, and ranchers impacted by the strains of the Coronavirus crisis. The bipartisan letter urged Secretary Perdue to ensure operations which have lost direct markets or are losing income, receive their fair share of relief authorized by the recently enacted CARES Act and administered by USDA.
Congressman Bergman is additionally supporting letters and advocating in favor of direct relief for specialty crops, including the unique needs of Michigan’s tart cherry industry.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $9.5 billion for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19, including specialty crop producers, producers that supply local food systems, and livestock producers. The new law also includes $14 billion for the replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation, which makes direct payments to farmers.
The Members wrote, “Unfortunately, farmers who sell products at the local and regional level are suffering significant market losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent report estimated a decline in sales of more than $680 million across key local and regional markets due to COVID-19 from March to May 2020. Many farmers can no longer sell products at farmers’ markets or to institutions, such as schools or universities, due to closures related to COVID-19. Many farms are dealing with unexpected expenses just to stay in business, including infrastructure investments related to delivery or sanitation improvements that are necessary due to COVID-19.”
“In addition to the financial damage to the local and regional food economies, various farming and ranching communities across the Nation are selling their product at a financial loss. For example, cattle producers are experiencing an unprecedented collapse in prices that prevents many of these ranchers from recouping the cost of production. The economic outlook for dairy farmers has also grown darker in a number of regions across the country as milk prices continue to decline. All of these producers, many of which are small in size, need to continue selling their safe, affordable, and nutritious foods in the marketplace.”
The following Members of Congress co-signed this letter:
Mark Pocan, Tulsi Gabbard, James P. McGovern, Earl Blumenauer, Kim Schrier, M.D., Antonio Delgado, Thomas Massie, Peter DeFazio, Ann McLane Kuster, Will Hurd, Fred Upton, Cheri Bustos, Suzanne Bonamici, Tim Ryan, Salud Carbajal, TJ Cox, Jim Costa, Alex X. Mooney, Neal P. Dunn, M.D., Jim Banks, Rosa L. DeLauro, Mario Diaz-Balart, Bill Huizenga, Betty McCollum, Juan Vargas, Christ Stewart, James R. Langevin, Greg Murphy, Kendra S. Horn, David B. McKinley, Josh Harder, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Brian Higgins, Angie Craig, Chuck Fleischmann, John Katko, Collin C. Peterson, John R. Carter, Jeff Duncan, Jimmy Panetta, Darren Soto, Sean Patrick Maloney, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Mike Simpson Emanuel Cleaver, II, Julia Brownley, Don Bacon, Doug LaMalfa, Xochitl Torres Small, Billy Long, Marcy Kaptur, Jared Golden, Jackie Walorski, John Garamendi, Elise Stefanik, Joe Courtney, David Price, Ben Ray Luján, Cindy Axne, and John Yarmuth.
The full letter can be read here.