The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319), providing additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. The U.S. Senate passed the legislation last week, and President Biden is expected to quickly sign the bill into law.
The Act includes $7 billion for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and $15 billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. Agricultural businesses have utilized both programs to ensure they can continue to operate during the pandemic.
Similar to previous COVID relief efforts, the legislation provides food assistance for those facing hunger through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food and nutrition programs, including extending the 15 percent increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through September 30, 2021.
The American Rescue Plan also provides $4 billion to respond to COVID-19 disruptions in the food supply chain and makes long-term investments to increase the resiliency of the food supply in the future. This includes increased food donation, protection for food workers, infrastructure investments, and support for livestock and animal health.
Assistance to strengthen rural health care, including assistance for rural hospitals and expanded vaccine distribution, are also included in the legislation.