Tester Secures $19 Billion to Help Ag Producers During Coronavirus Pandemic

$16 billion for direct aid to producers, $3 billion for food purchases, Senator announces

As a part of his ongoing fight to help family farms and ranches weather the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured $19 billion in funds for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

“Ag is the backbone of our state’s economy, and Montana family farms and ranches were hurting even before this pandemic,” said Tester. “I’m proud to have secured these funds because we need to do everything we can to provide them with some certainty as we head into planting season.”

The $19 billion in funding secured by Tester will be split between two programs: $16 billion will be used in direct aid to farmers and ranchers, and $3 billion will be used by USDA to purchase ag products like fresh produce, dairy, and meat, which will go to food banks and non-profits for local distribution.

Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer, has been leading the fight to make sure Montana producers have the certainty they need to get through the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, he sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging the Trump Administration to grant farmers more flexibility in their Farm Service Agency loans in order to ensure the continuity of the country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic by providing critical relief to producers. And, after Montana’s ranchers recently saw the steepest price decline for cattle in forty years due to the outbreak, Tester demanded that Secretary Perdue take immediate action to stabilize beef markets.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.