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Ag’s Booster Shot

Tom Vilsack is making his voice heard loud and clear: No ag sector left behind.

The USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative is coming through for producers and businesses that were left out of previous Coronavirus aid.

The ag industries that will benefit from the new support include:

  • Biofuels
  • Timber harvesters
  • Dairy farmers and processors
  • Livestock farmers and contract growers of poultry

On that first item, the biofuels… Most of us know the pandemic put fuel demand in the tank and many ethanol plants were sidelined, despite feedstock prices being at historic highs. Now biofuel producers specifically will get some relief, with $700 million of this new boost.

Refresher: The USDA has invested more than $11 billion directly into producers and ag businesses since January. In March, $6 billion of that injection specifically helped the little guys: beginning, socially disadvantaged, and small and medium-sized producers.

And as part of the USDA “Build Back Better” program, there is also $5 billion available in the form of loans, grants and innovative financing to help improve the food system.

All that money, money, money nearly doubles the USDA’s pre-pandemic outlays. And according to USDA budget data, the price tag this fiscal year is now — brace yourselves  — a whopping $289 billion.