This story has been updated to reflect that the legislation has been signed into law.
Programs to help agriculture and the food supply chain recover from the continued fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic will get a boost through the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan recently passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allocates about $10.4 billion for efforts to strengthen agriculture and the food supply chain. That includes a combined $3.6 billion for food purchases to be distributed to families in need, similar to the Farmers to Families Food Box program, and for farms and food processors to purchase protective equipment and implement other COVID-19 mitigation measures to protect employees.
Farm Bureau supported the agriculture and nutrition segment of the legislation.
In addition to funding for food purchases and COVID-19 mitigation costs, the package includes funding to monitor animals for the virus that causes COVID-19 and provides $100 million in relief to federally inspected small and very small meat, poultry and egg processors to help reduce overtime inspection costs as they work through a processing backlog.
Other provisions include:
- Grants to improve rural health care and assist COVID-19 vaccination efforts in rural communities.
- Debt relief to assist socially disadvantaged farmers as well as additional assistance to support socially disadvantaged farmers, including training, education, technical assistance, grants and loans.
- Funding to purchase U.S. food for international humanitarian efforts.
- Bolstering nutrition programs to assist families in need.
The agriculture and nutrition provision are part of a larger COVID-19 response and stimulus package that also includes direct payments to individuals and families up to certain income limits, expanded unemployment payments and other relief.