After days of uncertainty and threatening a veto, President Trump on Sunday, January 3 signed a year-end government spending bill, which included an additional $900 billion in COVID-19 relief. The package, supported by NPC, includes the Fiscal Year 2021 agriculture appropriations provisions as well as agriculture and nutrition program funding as part of the COVID relief effort.
Highlights of particular importance to the U.S. potato industry include:
CROP LOSS SUPPORT. The bill provides an estimated $225 million for supplemental payments to specialty crop producers for crop losses they suffered in 2019.
AG WORKER PROTECTION. The bill provides $1.5 billion in funding to support food purchases for those in need, food donations, and ag worker protections, including PPE and support for farmers, farmers markets, and food processors to respond to COVID-19.
SPECIALTY CROP BLOCK GRANTS. The bill provides $100 million in additional funding to support specialty crop farmers and address COVID-19 specialty crop supply chain issues at the state level via the farm bill’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
GUS SCHUMACHER NUTRITION INCENTIVE PROGRAM. The bill provides $75 million for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, which incentivizes purchases of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants at farmers’ markets and grocery retailers.
NIFA POTATO BREEDING: As advocated for by the U.S. potato industry, funding for National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) potato breeding special research grants was maintained at $2.75 million for FY21.
PROHIBITION ON POTATOES IN SCHOOL BREAKFAST PROGRAM. The bill also includes a prohibition on USDA arbitrarily limiting access to healthy, budget-friendly potatoes in the school breakfast program. Now the third year that this prohibition has been included in an annual funding bill, these efforts are strongly supported by NPC and school foodservice directors across the country.
PPP TAX DEDUCTIBILITY. The bill ensures that Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients can deduct the payroll costs and other expenses covered by forgiven loans. The action reverses a Treasury Department ruling that denied the deductions, creating the potential for a surprise tax increase of up to 37 percent on small businesses when they file their taxes for 2020.