How COVID-19 stimulus money will end up in U.S. tobacco farmers’ pockets | Nation


“It is a legal, legitimate commodity and to not include it is discrimination, plain and simple.”

Some tobacco farmers filed for bankruptcy because of the pandemic, said Shawn Harding, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau. He did not have estimates of lost jobs.

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, thanked Trump and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for helping tobacco farmers. Tillis trails his Democratic challenger, former state Senator Cal Cunningham, according to an Emerson College poll released on Monday.

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As part of the coronavirus stimulus in March, lawmakers approved $9.5 billion in CARES Act funding for agriculture. The CARES Act provided financial relief to people and businesses facing economic hardships due to COVID-19, including farmers.

USDA had access to an estimated $6.5 billion in available CCC funds in the spring. Congress also said USDA could draw an additional $14 billion in CCC funds in July to help farmers cope with COVID-19 — essentially tapping in to money USDA normally could not obtain until fall, according to farm economists.

Lawmakers specifically assigned the non-CCC money to the USDA Office of the Secretary run by Perdue.

USDA said it also moved the $6.5 billion from CCC into the account, and is doing so with the new CCC funding. The agency said it has internal accounting measures in place to ensure CCC funds do not go to tobacco farmers.

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