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Chairman Roberts’ Priorities Included in Senate-Passed Omnibus Legislation

NBAF Mission Bill, Relief for Producers, Livestock Dealer Trust, PPP Flexibilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today voted for the bipartisan fiscal year 2021 omnibus appropriations bill and the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. 

The legislation includes approximately $26 billion for pandemic-related agriculture and nutrition programs.

“I’m proud to cast one of my final votes in the Senate on behalf of America’s farmers, ranchers, and growers,” said Roberts. “This legislation will benefit every link in our food supply chain to make sure we can weather this pandemic.”

Provisions in the legislation which Roberts advocated for include:

  • Roberts’ bipartisan legislation, S. 2695, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) Act of 2019. On December 17, 2019, the Committee passed S. 2695. NBAF was created as a national security laboratory asset that will serve as a biosafety level 4 animal health research and development facility for the defense against bio-and agro-terrorism threats. This bill directs NBAF to protect the food supply, agriculture, and public health of the United States by carrying out relevant objectives of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 and the National Biodefense Strategy. The bill also outlines the national security mission of the facility and the duties of the agencies responsible for implementing that mission, including research, training, and coordination efforts related to animal health, veterinary countermeasure development, emerging foreign animal disease threats, and threat detection.
  • The Securing All Livestock Equitably (SALE) Act of 2020, which establishes a livestock dealer trust to benefit unpaid sellers of livestock. The 2018 Farm Bill provided for a USDA study on the feasibility of establishing a Livestock Dealer Statutory Trust, including analysis of the potential impacts a trust would have on livestock producers, dealers, markets, financiers, and other parties in the livestock sector.
  • The Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act, which assists meat and poultry slaughtering and processing facilities with making improvements to allow for interstate shipment.
  • The inclusion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) expenses deductibility, a major concern of farms and other small businesses that qualified for forgiveness on the loans. This legislation also:
    • Clarifies the eligibility of sole proprietor farmers and ranchers for PPP to more fully facilitate the participation of farmers and ranchers in PPP. 
    • Simplifies the loan forgiveness process for PPP loans up to $150,000 to help farmers, ranchers, rural businesses, and health care providers participating in PPP, as well as their commercial bank and Farm Credit System lenders.
    • Helps ensure farmers, ranchers, and rural communities have equal access to PPP loan funding through a set-aside for lenders with less than $10 billion in assets that includes rural commercial banks and Farm Credit institutions. 

The legislation also provides $11.19 billion for pandemic-related assistance to support agricultural producers and processors and:

  • Provides supplemental assistance to price trigger crops and flat rate crops of $20 per acre;
  • Addresses unintended inequities in the USDA’s sales commodity program for specialty crop and other producers who suffered a disaster in 2019;
  • Provides supplemental assistance to cattle producers to address a disparity created under CFAP for livestock that were sold after April 15, 2020.
  • Directs the U.S Agriculture Secretary to make payments to producers for losses incurred due to the depopulation of livestock and poultry due to insufficient processing access;
  • Provides $1 billion for contract growers of livestock and poultry to cover losses;
  • Extends the term of marketing assistance loans for any loan commodity to 12 months;
  • Provides $1.5 billion for the Agriculture Secretary to purchase and distribute food and agriculture products and provides for grants and loans to small or midsized food processors or distributors
  • Provides the Agriculture Secretary authority to make payments to producers of advanced biofuel, biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, conventional biofuel, or renewable fuel for unexpected market losses; and
  • Provides an extension of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act authority through September 30, 2021 to allow USDA to continue publishing reports on prices paid for cattle, swine, and sheep and meats derived from these livestock to facilitate informed marketing decisions.

This legislation builds upon provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136) as well as Senate Republicans’ efforts to advance the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act earlier this year.