The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, known as “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” is now official as President Biden signed the bill late last week.
We’ve all heard how the package will include $1,400 stimulus checks for qualifying individuals, extends unemployment benefits, and more. But it also increases assistance through USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
And according to American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Chief Economist, John Newton, combined nutrition and agricultural provisions in the legislation are estimated at $22.7 billion.
Agricultural provisions include an estimated $10.4 billion for programs designed to strengthen the agricultural and food supply chain. This would include things like COVD-19 mitigation efforts for agricultural workers, additional resources to purchase and distribute agricultural commodities to nonprofits, restaurants, or other food-related entities, an increased access to health care in rural communities and it will provide debt relief and other support programs for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
The act appropriates $3.6 billion for USDA to purchase and distribute agricultural commodities. Similar efforts through the Farmers to Families Food Box program have resulted in the delivery of over 140 million food boxes including dairy products, fluid milk, fruits, vegetables, and pre-cooked meats. The difference in this package is food donation efforts are now expected to also include other distribution channels like restaurants that can receive, store, process, and distribute food items.