08.05.20

Chairman Roberts: Ag Producers’ Work During Pandemic Is ‘Nothing Short of Heroic’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the hard work of American agriculture producers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to watch his remarks.

“Producing food for a troubled and hungry world is what farmers do day in and day out. But, especially at times like this, it is nothing short of heroic,” said Chairman Roberts. 

“We’ve taken steps to address the needs of our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and growers in recent months. In March, we unanimously passed the CARES Act, which included funding for the Department of Agriculture to address needs related to the pandemic. We included $9.5 billion for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to deliver emergency support for those in the agriculture and food industry who have suffered losses due to COVID-19. And, we included a $14 billion partial replenishment for the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to provide additional assistance to affected producers. The legislation ensured the continued implementation of our 2018 Farm Bill programs, which provide certainty and predictability at a time when both are scarce.” 

“I serve as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. And, I have worked on addressing rural America’s priorities as part of a fourth COVID-19 relief package. This week, we’re considering legislation with the hopes of a bipartisan solution. I anticipate this legislative process will go through several twists and turns before a final agreement is reached. But, we must provide solutions. The entire country is counting on us.”

The following is Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

I rise today to shine a spotlight on our nation’s “COVID-19 heroes.” 

We’ve heard the term “hero” a lot during the coronavirus pandemic. And, I believe the title is warranted to describe the many Kansans and Americans who are doing extraordinary work and making great sacrifices to make this country safer and healthier.

Today, I want to talk about the heroes – the farmers, the ranchers, and the growers – who are working long hours, day in and day out, to produce the food on our dinner tables and make sure our supermarket shelves are stocked. 

These producers are facing low prices, regulatory overreach, a challenging trade environment, and drastic, sudden changes in demand for their crops and animals. To top it off, net farm income is estimated to drop by nearly $20 billion this year. 

Despite all these challenges, they have continued to produce even more with less. 

American farmers and ranchers are so efficient at their jobs, we are able to enjoy the most affordable food of any country in the world. We also have the safest and most ample food supply. 

That is why I consider our farmers, ranchers, and growers, “heroes.”

Producing food for a troubled and hungry world is what farmers do day in and day out. But, especially at times like this, it is nothing short of heroic. 

We’ve taken steps to address the needs of our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and growers in recent months.

In March, we unanimously passed the CARES Act, which included funding for the Department of Agriculture to address needs related to the pandemic. 

We included $9.5 billion for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to deliver emergency support for those in the agriculture and food industry who have suffered losses due to COVID-19. 

And, we included a $14 billion partial replenishment for the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to provide additional assistance to affected producers. The legislation ensured the continued implementation of our 2018 Farm Bill programs, which provide certainty and predictability at a time when both are scarce. 

We provided additional resources for telemedicine, broadband connectivity, as well as business and industry loans. 

The CARES Act also supplied the Department with the resources to continue mandatory inspection services to ensure food safety and minimize potential interruption in the food supply chain. 

COVID-19 created a ripple effect that was felt from the farm to the supermarket. The agriculture and food sector, along with the Administration, the CDC, and OSHA, have implemented practices and policies that address worker health and safety in processing plants. 

Keeping America's meat and poultry processing system functional was imperative, as was boosting worker safety and protections in these plants. 

Now, we must all take the lessons we have learned in the past few months and build upon this progress.

I serve as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. And, I have worked on addressing rural America’s priorities as part of a fourth COVID-19 relief package.  

This week, we’re considering legislation with the hopes of a bipartisan solution.  I anticipate this legislative process will go through several twists and turns before a final agreement is reached. But, we must provide solutions. The entire country is counting on us.

In closing, I want to thank farmers, ranchers, and growers across the country who have continued to do their job during these trying times. 

And, I want them to know that we’re continuing to work to make sure they have the tools they need to continue feeding a troubled and hungry world. 

Thank you. 

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Meghan Cline