Farmers Union applauds passage of American Rescue Plan

National Farmers Union
Farm Forum

WASHINGTON – After a full day and night of deliberation, the U.S. Senate narrowly passed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill.

The package, known as the American Rescue Plan, will extend federal unemployment benefits, offer up to $1,400 in direct payments to individuals earning less than $80,000 and increase funding for several nutrition assistance programs.

Additionally, the plan authorizes a number of provisions to bolster rural and agricultural communities, including a pilot program to facilitate the distribution of vaccines and other medical supplies in rural areas, debt relief for historically disadvantaged farmers and $4 billion to build resilience in the food system.

At the organization’s convention earlier this week, National Farmers Union (NFU) members urged lawmakers to “enact much-needed short-term Covid-19 relief” for struggling businesses and hungry Americans, as well as implement longer-term solutions to minimize future disruptions in the food chain and “remedy historical inequities … faced by farmers of color.”

In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew welcomed the bill’s passage and lauded legislators for addressing many of Farmers Union’s top concerns.

“Though the end of the pandemic is in sight, for millions of Americans, its ramifications will linger for months, if not years,” Larew wrote. “As we try to get back to some sense of normal, we are reassured that Congress is working to make the recovery as fast, as equitable and as complete as possible with the American Rescue Plan. This legislation provides a lifeline that will help keep families afloat until their hardships subside.”

Larew continued, “In addition to its broader provisions to support unemployed and lower-income Americans, we appreciate the American Rescue Plan’s prioritization of rural and agricultural issues. The pandemic has exposed many of the deep-seated weaknesses and inequities in our food system and in our communities. For many years, Farmers Union members have been alarmed about the dramatic consolidation of food production, the failure to adequately fund rural health care systems, and the racial inequities that haunt our federal farm programs – problems that have been all but ignored by our elected representatives and federal officials.”

“But after all these issues came to a head over the last year, it’s clear we can no longer afford to sweep them under the rug,” Larew wrote. “By building resilience across the food supply chain, supporting rural vaccine distribution and offering historically disadvantaged farmers debt relief, this bill takes several steps towards more meaningful, enduring improvements. We commend the Senate for incorporating these important measures and encourage the House of Representatives to provide much-needed assistance by quickly approving this plan.”