Senators write USDA seeking wheat assistance

When considering future COVID-19 aid, senators and wheat group urge USDA to provide assistance for all wheat producers.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

September 3, 2020

2 Min Read
Senators write USDA seeking wheat assistance

On Wednesday, 21 bipartisan senators representing wheat-producing states issued a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture “regarding the deteriorating economic conditions being experienced by wheat farmers across the country” and the compounding impact this is having with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), the letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requests that funds in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act be provided to wheat growers of all wheat varieties to address price impacts from COVID-19. Perdue has said in recent weeks that he plans to provide a second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to cover additional price losses in the second and third quarters.

“As members of Congress representing wheat-producing states, we write regarding the deteriorating economic conditions being experienced by wheat farmers across the country who are already nearly completed with this year’s harvest,” the senators wrote. “Whether it’s wheat farmers who wrapped up harvest in May, those in the field harvesting their crops now or those looking ahead to harvest in the coming weeks, COVID-19 and other factors outside their control continue to depress the price of wheat. We ask that you use the resources available through the CARES Act to provide support for wheat farmers that includes assistance for all classes of wheat.”

Related:Second round of CFAP could come after Labor Day

National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) president and Cass City, Mich., wheat grower Dave Milligan thanked the senators for taking the lead on this issue, saying, “We applaud both parties for coming together to advocate on such an important issue.”

In the letter, the senators point to the economic impact of COVID-19 on wheat prices and the need for assistance for all wheat growers. The letter focuses on CFAP, stating that while the assistance is important to hard red spring and durum wheat producers, "these classes of wheat represent approximately 30% of 2019 production, leaving the majority of wheat farmers without access to assistance through the CFAP program.”

Milligan said, “Again, we want to thank the USDA for getting CFAP quickly off the ground but stress that it does not do enough for all wheat farmers. NAWG urges USDA to provide assistance to farmers of all classes of wheat and to consider 2020 crop losses and price decline when developing any future aid plan.”

The bipartisan letter was signed by 21 U.S. senators, including: Roberts, Klobuchar, Jim Risch (R., Ida.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), Mike Crapo (R., Ida.), John Cornyn (R., Texas), Steve Daines (R., Mont.), Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.), Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), Tina Smith (D., Minn.), Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), John Hoeven (R., N.D.), Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Mike Rounds (R., S.D.), Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) and John Thune (R., S.D.).

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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