Iowa spends $100M in federal funds for farmer, ag programs


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The state will provide $100 million in federal funds to help Iowa livestock producers, the biofuels industry, beginning farmers and small-scale meat processors recover from the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday.

As many Iowa farmers deal with the impact of a massive storm and continue to suffer from lower demand for corn and soybeans and extremely low prices, Reynolds allocated the money from the federal CARES Act to programs that help agriculture-related businesses and farmers.

The governor provided $60 million in grants for producers of pork, beef, chicken, turkeys, dairy, fish or sheep to serve as working capital to stabilize their operations.

Another $15.5 million will go to ethanol and biodiesel producers and $7 million to help gas stations add pumps for higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

Beginning farmers could be eligible to tap into a $6 million fund designed to help alleviate some farm debt and $2 million to help small-scale meat processors expand capacity to help fill supply gaps left by large processors whose production was hampered by coronavirus outbreaks.

Up to $9 million is available to help livestock farmers recoup expenses from killing animals on the farm before slaughter because of coronavirus-related backups at meatpacking plants.

The governor also will allocate $500,000 to help local fruit and vegetable growers expand their capacity and offers grants to schools to buy fresh farm products from local growers.