Food, Ag, and Rural Aid Included in Latest COVID-19 Relief Bill

After seven hours of deliberation on last Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee finished marking up the agriculture and nutrition title of the COVID-19 relief bill making its way through Congress. The Committee reported favorably – by a 25-23 vote – to the House Budget Committee its 17-page bill.  

Provisions in the package, among other items, include:  

  • Grants and loans to purchase personal protective equipment, test kits, and other measures to keep essential food workers safe; 
  • Infrastructure investments and retooling support for food processors, farmers markets, and producers to build resiliency in the food supply in the long term; 
  • An extension of the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through Sept. 30, 2021; 
  • Access to more fruits and vegetables in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); 
  • $37 million for senior nutrition through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program; and, 
  • Support for more food purchases from farmers for distribution through food banks, nonprofits, or restaurants. 

The House Ways and Means Committee was among the nine authorizing committees marking up pieces of the COVID-19 relief bill this week. The Ways and Means bill includes: direct payments of $1,400 for individuals earning up to $75,000 or couples making $150,000; paid-leave benefits for workers and tax credits for employers with fewer than 500 employees; an expanded Child Tax Credit; and an extension of the employee retention tax credit through the end of the year amongst other provisions.  

The House is expected to consider the relief package the week of February 22.