Trahan Concludes Farm Tour in Support of Coronavirus Relief for Local Farmers
Hollis Hills Farm
LOWELL, MA – Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) concluded her listening tour of farms in Littleton, Stow, and Fitchburg, where she heard from farmers and workers about difficulties their businesses face because of the coronavirus pandemic. After hearing their concerns, she called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass the Heroes Act to provide additional relief to workers and small businesses in need of more help.
“The devastating impact of COVID-19 can be seen across almost every sector of our economy, and despite their hard work in the face of incredible adversity, the 842 farms in the Third District have not been entirely immune from the pandemic’s economic toll. I’m grateful to the farmers for taking the time today to share the effects this crisis is having on their businesses. My job is to listen to their experiences and make sure they’re heard in Washington,” Congresswoman Trahan said.
“I’m proud to have already cast my vote for the Heroes Act, which delivers on many of the issues we discussed today. Now, Mitch McConnell needs to get off the sidelines and pass this bill so that farmers, working families, health care heroes, first responders, and more can get the additional relief they desperately need,” Congresswoman Trahan continued.
Stops on Trahan’s listening tour included Idyllvale Farm in Littleton, Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, and Hollis Hills Farm in Fitchburg. She was joined in Littleton by State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Middlesex & Worcester District), in Stow by State Representative Kate Hogan (D-3rd Middlesex), and in Fitchburg by Mayor Stephen DiNatale and State Representative Stephan Hay (D-3rd Worcester).
Trahan has worked with farmers across the Third District in recent months to ensure that they have access to the relief they need to weather the economic storm created by the COVID-19. In late March, she voted for the CARES Act, which made many farmers eligible for small business relief through the newly created Paycheck Protection Program.
Following discussions with farmers in Harvard and Lunenburg about how they were being unfairly excluded from relief through the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, Trahan successfully advocated for the inclusion of a provision in the interim relief package in April to make farms with less than 500 employees eligible for grants of up to $10,000 and low-interest loans of up to $2 million through the program.
Most recently, Trahan supported passage of the Heroes Act, which included a number of provisions important to Massachusetts farmers, including:
- Producer payments for COVID-19 losses: $16.5 billion for direct payments to agricultural producers whose commodities were impacted by market disruptions due to the COVID-19 emergency.
- Local Agriculture Market Program: $50 million in additional funding to support local farmers, farmers markets, and other local food outlets who are impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions through the farm bill’s LAMP program.
- Farm to Food Bank Program: The bill provides $25 million for the Farm to Food Bank program and makes program improvements for these additional funds. The funds may be used to cover up to 100 percent of harvesting, processing, packaging, and transportation costs for commodities donated to food banks. Encourages prioritization of dairy, meat, poultry and specialty crops.
- Farming Opportunities Training & Outreach: $50 million to the farm bill’s FOTO grants to support groups providing beginning farmers and ranchers with financial, operational, and marketing advice in this difficult market.
- Block Grants to States for existing farm stress programs: $28 million to be distributed as block grants to state departments of agriculture for use to support existing farm stress programs.
- Farm Bill Animal Disease Prevention and Management Fund: $300 million to support improved animal health surveillance and laboratory capacity in this public health emergency.
- Emergency Dairy Donation Program: $500 million to pay for milk to be processed into dairy products and donated to non-profit entities (food banks, feeding programs, etc.).
- Dairy Recourse Loan Program: $500 million for USDA to carry out a recourse loan program to make purchases of dairy products from dairy processors, packagers, merchants, marketers, wholesalers, and distributors.
Trahan has repeatedly called on Leader McConnell to bring up the Heroes Act for a vote in the Senate since the bill passed the House in mid-May.