US lawmakers from agricultural states push for $1 billion in aid - Albuquerque Journal

US lawmakers from agricultural states push for $1 billion in aid

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small

Some New Mexico dairies have reported average monthly losses of more than a quarter of a million dollars as fallout from the coronavirus outbreak mounts. Cattle prices have plummeted amid supply chain problems, and farmers are starting to worry about potential labor shortages when harvest time comes.

Across the country, the agriculture industry has felt the sting of a collapsing market that has forced the dumping of excess milk, the plowing under of potato crops and the destruction of livestock.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers from rural areas pushing legislation that calls for funneling as much as $1 billion in aid to states based on their contributions to regional and national food systems. The New Mexico Democrat says the aim is to stabilize food supply chains and lessen the economic impact on rural communities being hit by the shockwave moving through the agriculture sector.

“This pandemic has impacted every aspect of our rural way of life, but the federal response has not yet matched the severity of the crisis that rural communities are facing,” said Torres Small, a member of the House Agriculture Committee.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week announced details about how $16 billion in direct payments will be issued to farmers and ranchers impacted by the pandemic. Part of that will come from the relief package already passed by Congress and will compensate farmers for losses that occurred through mid-April. Another pot of funding will compensate producers for losses due to ongoing market disruptions.

Some lawmakers and agriculture groups have said the direct assistance will cover only a small portion of the losses.

Under the proposal supported by Torres Small and others, the USDA would allocate funds to states and territories to address the additional logistical costs of getting food to consumers and keeping the agricultural economy moving as much as possible.

Supporters say the direct assistance to farmers will have more impact if additional losses can be avoided through intervention efforts. That could include compensating farms for donated food, building local processing facilities to improve access to products, and paying for protective gear, testing and treatment for farmworkers.

In New Mexico, state agriculture officials are trying to link consumers directly with local producers and agricultural businesses through an online hub.

State Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte said the effort has grown out of the department’s work to connect growers with food banks or Native American communities in need of supplies. He said the plan is to keep growing the list of what’s available.

“Food access is an immediate and ongoing need, and we cannot afford any more loss of agricultural products,” Witte said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected agriculture in numerous ways, from supply-chain issues to product loss, and from processing capacity to financial instability, but in the end, people need food.”

Home » News » New Mexico News » US lawmakers from agricultural states push for $1 billion in aid

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
8 bikers shot, 3 dead during motorcycle rally in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Multiple people were shot Saturday afternoon ... Multiple people were shot Saturday afternoon at a bar in Red River as the town geared up for an annual motorcycle rally.
'Truth or Consequences' ranks as one of the best ...
ABQnews Seeker
It's the summer of 1970 and ... It's the summer of 1970 and Daniel Asa Rose and Tony Wilson, both 20 years old and best friends since sixth grade, are about ...
Wine and secrets get spilled in the comedy 'Drinking ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater ... "Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater on June 2, running on weekends through June 25.
Photographer, author Chris Rainier to bring 'Cultures on the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents ... Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents "Cultures on the Edge: A Journey into Indigenous Ways of Being" at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
National Theatre Live production 'Best of Enemies' to be ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Best of Enemies" was the winner ... "Best of Enemies" was the winner of the 2022 Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play and nominated for the 2022 Olivier Award for ...
Mysterious garden holes are the traps of antlions
ABQnews Seeker
At this stage of life they ... At this stage of life they create those perfect round holes which are actually traps for unsuspecting ground crawling insects.
The Met Live comes to the Lensic with 'The ...
ABQnews Seeker
Opera fans can head to the ... Opera fans can head to the Lensic Performing Arts Center for "The Met Live in HD: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)" at 11 a.m. ...
Bond House Museum to showcase Santa Fe Opera props, ...
ABQnews Seeker
The exhibition represents a collaboration between ... The exhibition represents a collaboration between the opera and the San Gabriel Historical Society and the Española Valley Opera Guild.
'The Nature of Glass' explores the medium through a ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The Nature of Glass" focuses on ... "The Nature of Glass" focuses on 28 contemporary works by such household names as Judy Chicago, Georgia O'Keeffe and Preston Singletary.