What’s in the HEROES Act for agriculture


The HEROES Act passed in the U.S. House last week, here is a look at one is in the latest round of coronavirus aid proposed. The total price tag on this bill is $3 trillion.

For producers forced to depopulate their market ready animals, the USDA would be able to reimburse farmers a rate of 85 percent of total losses. As each month passes that rate will drop by 10 percent.

Livestock dealers would be required to establish a statutory trust, guaranteeing payment to producers should the dealer go out business. $300 million dollars could be directed to animal health surveillance labs.

Half a billion dollars would go to the biofuels sector and an estimated $2.5 billion dollars may be reserved for direct assistance to the biofuel sector.

Cotton mills may receive direct payments of 85 percent of loss coverage. Cotton textile mills may also be eligible for direct payments.

Producers not originally covered under the CARES Act would be eligible for reimbursement up to 85 percent of their losses.

Also included in this version of the bill is a charter amendment for the Commodity Credit Corporation. Changes would allow the CCC to provide payments for depopulation, due to supply chain disruptions during an emergency. Plus, it requires the Senate and the House Ag Committees to approve spending, which currently only the Secretary of Agriculture can do.

Additionally, $100 million dollars would be available in the form of block grants for specialty crops and $50 million for local farmers’ markets. Under the conservation section of the bill, a pilot program could idle 5 million acres of cropland for three years.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, it may be several weeks before the Senate takes up a bill. Lawmakers will wait to see how effective the previous three aid packages are. Provisions in the bill may likely change in the coming weeks.

Rob Larew, the President of the National Farmers Union, praised the bill stating: “As rural communities cope with widespread unemployment, a growing rate of coronavirus cases, and underfunded medical facilities, all of these changes are urgently important and greatly appreciated.”

Texas Representative Michael Conaway did not have as high of praise.

“While I like some of the policy proposals contained in the agricultural relief provisions, many others need work,” he said. “A bipartisan process would have allowed for a collaborative discussion, but unfortunately there was no process at all.”

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