US Senate passes the American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan, the US' new COVID-19 relief package, passed the US Senate on 6 March.
calendar icon 8 March 2021
clock icon 3 minute read

After a full day and night of deliberation, the US 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, it authorises 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.

Reaction from the USDA

In a statement issued by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, he praised the passage of the relief bill, saying: 

“I am grateful to the US Senate for passing the American Rescue Plan to bring much-needed nutrition assistance and financial relief to millions of families struggling to pay the bills and put healthy food on the table. President Biden made this transformative piece of legislation his first priority upon taking office, and he fulfilled his pledge to the American people. The bill not only boosts SNAP benefits through September, it also increases targeted nutrition assistance to mothers and young children and expedites more nutrition aid to US territories. Farmers, business owners, and workers across the food supply chain will see additional assistance to respond to market disruption, as well.

“The American Rescue Plan is historic for other reasons, namely for the transformative debt relief it provides to Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other farmers of colour. For generations, socially disadvantaged farmers have struggled to fully succeed due to systemic discrimination and a cycle of debt. On top of the economic pain caused by the pandemic, farmers from socially disadvantaged communities are dealing with a disproportionate share of COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalisations, death and economic hurt. The American Rescue Plan ensures that we get the economy on track for everyone, especially those who have been marginalised, who are hurting, who have been overlooked or shut out in the past.”

The National Farmers Union welcomes action on COVID-19

At the organisation’s convention last 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 minimise future disruptions in the food chain and “remedy historical inequities…faced by farmers of colour.” 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. 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.

“In addition to its broader provisions to support unemployed and lower-income Americans, we appreciate the American Rescue Plan’s prioritisation 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. 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.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.