06 March 2021, Washington: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today on passage of the American Rescue Plan Act by the U.S. Senate.
“I am grateful to the U.S. Senate for passing the American Rescue Plan today to bring much-needed nutrition assistance and financial relief to millions of families struggling to pay the bills and put healthy food on the table. President Biden made this transformative piece of legislation his first priority upon taking office, and he fulfilled his pledge to the American people. If you’re a mother or father struggling to get by, who didn’t always know when or where the next meal would come from, you will rest easier tonight knowing help is on the way. The bill not only boosts SNAP benefits through September, it also increases targeted nutrition assistance to mothers and young children and expedites more nutrition aid to U.S. territories. Farmers, business owners, and workers across the food supply chain will see additional assistance to respond to market disruption, as well.
“The American Rescue Plan is historic for other reasons, namely for the transformative debt relief it provides to Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other farmers of color. For generations, socially disadvantaged farmers have struggled to fully succeed due to systemic discrimination and a cycle of debt. On top of the economic pain caused by the pandemic, farmers from socially disadvantaged communities are dealing with a disproportionate share of COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations, death and economic hurt. The American Rescue Plan ensures that we get the economy on track for everyone, especially those who have been marginalized, who are hurting, who have been overlooked or shut out in the past. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stands ready to implement these important provisions once the bill clears Congress and is signed into law by President Biden.”