Nearly $25 billion in agriculture assistance is available in the CARES Act

BISMARCK, N.D. Farmers and ranchers have had a tough year so far, but relief may be on the way.

Nearly $25 billion of agricultural assistance is available through the federal stimulus package.

The agriculture industry in our state has been hit hard by trade and weather issues and now they're struggling during the pandemic as well.

The assistance in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act includes $14 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation, the primary funding source for many farm programs.

There’s also $9.5 billion in separate funding in Emergency Appropriations for the US Department of Agriculture and remaining amounts go to support rural communities.

With the CARES Act outlining funding and allowing the proper authority to disperse it to farmers and ranchers in need, the next step lies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture determining how assistance will be administered.

"Is this in steps or is it kind of a global thing where we do it together, I don't think USDA has really decided on that yet," says Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

But a decision is dire for many in this time as coronavirus has largely impacted the market. Many producers, like grain growers, have been hit hard.

"The negative impacts on markets has been very evident, but also the way and style in which we can deliver. And everybody's got to be safe in these days, so nothing is as it has been in the past," says ND Grain Growers Executive Director Dan Wogsland.

The USDA says they are listening to the concerns of all North Dakota producers in order to keep food supply stable during a time of instability.

"We need to get these producers some money so they can get the crop in the ground because if we don't get the crop in the ground we'll start breaking that food chain," says USDA State Director Brad Thykeson.

He hopes the extra funding will help combat the many challenges farmers have experienced throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

Sen. Hoeven says the small business programs in the CARES Act, like the Paycheck Protection Program, are also available to farmers who can apply through their local lenders.