North Dakota Farmers Union praised provisions that support family farmers and ranchers in the “Phase III” COVID-19 legislation passed by the U.S. Senate late Wednesday, March 25.

“We have been pushing for continued and additional aid due to the extreme financial difficulties farmers and ranchers are under,” said NDFU President Mark Watne.

The legislation includes $14 billion to reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation, which has been used to fund the Market Facilitation Program in recent years. It also provides an additional $9.5 billion to support livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers and local food systems.

“Our farmers and ranchers are feeling the economic impact from the pandemic, continued trade issues and low market prices,” said Watne. “We’re particularly grateful to Sen. (John) Hoeven’s responsiveness to our concerns and for leading efforts to secure critical funding to support our producers.”

The legislation will set the stage for a new program to offset livestock producers’ losses. Since Jan. 23, live cattle prices have dropped by roughly $30 per hundredweight, despite strong beef demand at grocery stores, Watne said.