Rural, Farming Communities to Gain from COVID-19 Relief
Thursday, March 11, 2021
HELENA, Mont. -- Rural communities are big beneficiaries from the COVID-19 relief bill Congress passed on Wednesday.
The $1.9 trillion bill has some well-known provisions, such as $1,400 stimulus checks, but also includes billions of dollars in relief for rural and farming communities across the country.
Walter Schweitzer, president of the Montana Farmers Union, said farmers and rural towns didn't seem to get much relief from the first two relief bills.
"Our rural communities are suffering and no one seemed to care," Schweitzer asserted. "And this first $3 trillion, it seemed to miss Montana."
Opponents of the measure say it's too big and could overheat the economy, potentially driving up inflation and hurting consumers.
Matt Hildreth, executive director of RuralOrganizing.org, said there's a long list of benefits for rural America, such as $100 million in rental assistance for USDA-subsidized rural properties, $10 billion to expand broadband and a 15% increase in SNAP food assistance benefits through September.
Rural households are more likely to participate in that program.
"Then also, it's providing $4 billion to support the local food chain and making sure that food and farmworkers have access to PPE, and it provides financial support for farmers," Hildreth outlined.
Schweitzer noted there's a mental-health crisis among Montana farmers, who are suffering not only from the impacts of the pandemic but from an alarming number of bankruptcies.
He pointed out many of these folks are third- and fourth-generation farmers and the weight of the family farm is on their shoulders.
"They're going to be the generation who lost the farm," Schweitzer warned. "And so any little amount that can give the family farm here in Montana some relief is probably not only going to save a family farm, but it's going to save a farmer's life."
The bill also provides broader benefits, like $350 billion to state and local governments and extended unemployment relief through September, reauthorizing a $300 boost in weekly benefits.
get more stories like this via email
A program that would provide food benefits to kids during the summer still needs funding approval from the Oregon Legislature. The state has …
Minnesota lawmakers face growing calls this session to boost access to affordable housing and there is a proposal to lend a voice to existing renters …
Health and Wellness
Legislation in Massachusetts would ban some of the tactics used by "crisis pregnancy centers" to prevent people from having abortions. Many of the …
A new report said philanthropic organizations need to reexamine the source of their wealth, which it asserted often came from systemic racism and …
Americans' confidence in higher education has plummeted but students and staff at Maine's Colby College hope continued community outreach will help br…
It is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and plants and critters not native to the Northwest are wreaking havoc on some landscapes, including …
Health and Wellness
A new program in a Washington public library system is helping people monitor their blood pressure at home. The American Heart Association has …
By Kayla Benjamin for The Washington Informer.Broadcast version by Brett Peveto for Maryland News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Ne…