The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture thanks Congress for advancing a COVID-19 stimulus bill and fiscal year 2021 omnibus spending bill that provide important funding for agriculture and food programs. The new funding enables NASDA members to continue tailored COVID-19 responses as their communities’ needs change through the duration of the pandemic.
“We are grateful for the financial support of the agriculture community, specifically the $100 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and $100 million for the Local Agriculture Market Program,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. Farmers markets have been devastated by the pandemic, and additional funding focused on local agriculture is critical for these markets’ survival.”
State departments of agriculture were awarded $72.4 million in 2020 for Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, and this next round of funding will be instrumental in enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops.
Farmers and ranchers have demonstrated their resiliency in recent years, enduring natural disasters, trade disputes, financial uncertainty and a pandemic. It is critical mental health and stress programs that have been made available that assist farmers and ranchers in navigating these tumultuous events.
“NASDA praises Congress for providing a $28 million block grant to state departments of agriculture to support the foundation of our industry—the health and wellness of American farmers,” Glenn said.
In addition, NASDA appreciates Congress appropriating funds for improvements to meat and poultry processing facilities, particularly those facilities currently in a Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.
“The $60 million this bill provides to increase meat processing capacity will help ensure supply chain continuity for the animal agriculture industry,” Glenn said.
NASDA also appreciates Congress’ extension of the deadline for state and local governments to spend CARES Act funding.
NASDA also saw successes in the fiscal year 2021 omnibus bill:
- $10 million for the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food Safety Outreach Program
- $10 million for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network
- $635 million for the Agriculture Quarantine Inspection program to keep pests and diseases from entering the U.S.
- $24 million for the State and Tribal Assistance Grants categorized for pesticides enforcement.
As our attention turns to welcoming a new administration and Congress, NASDA will continue advocating for passing the bipartisan, Farming Support to States Act. Serving as both local leaders and co-regulators with the federal government, NASDA members are uniquely positioned to help farmers and rural communities heal from COVID-19 impacts. Despite this, many state departments of agriculture have yet to receive dedicated funding for COVID-19 aid. NASDA members are leveraging local partnerships to stock foodbanks, help individual farmers access federal aid, and re-work local food supply chains to keep workers safe and our food supply moving.
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government, and stakeholders. Learn more about NASDA at www.nasda.org.