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Senate Republicans released their phase four relief package. Heres what it means for agriculture.

With Congressional leaders racing to finalize a fourth round of COVID-19 relief before the annual August recess, yesterday’s release of the Senate Republican proposal represented a crucial starting point. The Republican plan includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus payments for individuals, extends additional unemployment payments by $200 a week through September, and includes substantial funding for schools and COVID-19 testing.

On the agriculture front, the Senate Republican plan would provide the USDA Secretary with $20 billion in new discretionary funding to support agricultural producers, growers and processors. USDA’s Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection service would also receive a $245 million infusion to offset the decrease in user fees that typically fund the program. Not included in the Republican plan is additional funding for food and nutrition programs or dedicated funding for state departments of agriculture to respond to COVID-19 impacts.

“The food and agriculture value chain cannot afford another round of band-aids for COVID-19 relief and recovery,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. “This relief package falls short of meeting the needs of the food and agriculture community.”

The Senate Republican plan must be reconciled with the plan previously released by House Democrats. While the areas of agreement are not yet known, NASDA is engaging with Capitol Hill and allies in the agriculture community to ensure that resources are available for states and the producers they serve.

“We will continue to press Congress for smart policymaking to guard against an uneven COVID-19 recovery that harms our food system and rural America,” Glenn said.

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