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Sep 3, 2020

Tester Calls on USDA to Expand Assistance to Wheat Producers Left Out of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Senators: “The average price of wheat is shaping up to be the worst in the last 13 years”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on agriculture production across the country, U.S. Senator Jon Tester and a bipartisan group of his colleagues are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide additional support for wheat farmers facing major losses.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Tester outlined the need to expand eligibility for assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to include COVID-19 losses for all classes of wheat.

“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…the economic impact of COVID-19 has been experienced and felt by all wheat farmers across the country,” wrote Tester and his colleagues. “…The average price for wheat in 2020 is shaping up to be the worst in the last 13 years.”

Authorized through the Coronavirus, Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, CFAP provides $16 billion in direct aid to farmers and ranchers, including $3.9 billion for non-specialty crops such as wheat. Eligible producers can receive direct aid for commodities that experienced at least a 5 percent price loss as related to COVID-19. CFAP currently provides assistance to some wheat producers impacted by the pandemic, including at-risk 2019 crop losses for hard red spring and durum wheat. However, these classes of wheat represent approximately 30 percent of 2019 wheat production, leaving a majority of wheat farmers without access to assistance through the program.

The deadline to apply for assistance through CFAP is September 11th, 2020. Eligible producers can do so by contacting their local FSA office.

As a small scale producer in rural Montana, Tester has been fighting tooth and nail to bring critical relief to farmers and ranchers across the Treasure State. Earlier this year, he laid out his three-plank Rancher Relief Plan that aims to provide certainty to Montana producers and give consumers more access to the products they buy at the supermarket. Additionally, Tester successfully expanded the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Relief Loan and Emergency Economic Injury Grant Programs to include ag businesses, farms, and ranches, and secured $1 billion in USDA loan guarantees through the CARES Act to help rural businesses meet working capital needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tester’s full letter is available HERE.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

208 North Montana Avenue
Suite 104
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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