I wanted to provide a few updates on some developments that have taken place in the past couple of weeks.
The passage last evening of the CARES Act by the Senate represents more than a week of unprecedented bipartisan work for the American people. Although it included a lot of partisan fighting, it is an important step to jump starting our economy nation-wide during this difficult time.
The bill provides USDA with $9.5 billion in funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic by providing support for ag producers who are impacted. This includes livestock producers, specialty crop producers and producers that supply local food systems like farmers markets. The bill also replenishes $14 billion in funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation, which is often used to stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices.
I continue to monitor the markets, and as many of you, am pleased to see the cattle market coming back, but have concerns about what is going on right now with corn and other grain prices. The drop in oil prices is causing major hurt for the ethanol industry and consequently for the corn markets. It could not have come at a worse time.
Earlier this week I was on a conference call with Sec. Perdue and believe he has a good handle on the situation. I was pleased to hear that progress is being made in our trade agreements with China. The Secretary also stressed the important role our industry plays in our nation’s security and the necessity to keep our food supply chain working.
We take many simple things for granted like keeping rest stops open for truckers who are trying to get products where they need to be, and the ability to shop in grocery stores with unlimited selections of products. In the last few weeks, nearly every part of the food supply chain has had their business plans disrupted to some extent. The bottom line is that we must keep our people fed and provide health care for the thousands of people affected by COVID 19.
President Trump and Governor Noem are surrounding themselves with good people who are doing their best to make the right choices for our state and nation. It’s a huge team effort in dealing with a situation we have never really seen before.
We all have a very important job to continue to do and that is to get up each morning and grow and harvest the food our world depends on. I know we can continue to do our part. Please keep our leaders and health care providers in your prayers. Thank you for doing your part to help us get past this current situation.