Courtesy MO General Assembly
JEFFERSON CITY – State Sen. Justin Brown, R-Rolla, has proposed spending $20 million of federal coronavirus relief funding to assist livestock producers and food processing facilities affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The spending request was included in the 2021 state budget proposal drafted by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.
A member of the Appropriations Committee, Brown expressed concerns about disruptions in the nation’s food supply following the closure of several large protein processing facilities around the nation. On April 28, the president invoked the Defense Production Act and ordered meat and poultry processors to continue operations.
“Agriculture and food production are an important element of America’s critical infrastructure,” Sen. Brown said. “It is imperative that we provide the resources necessary to keep these facilities open and our food supply secure. This funding will allow producers and processors to adapt to the rapidly evolving coronavirus crisis.”
Funding for Sen. Brown’s proposal would come from money Missouri receives from coronavirus relief legislation passed by Congress. The funding would likely be used to enhance worker safety and increase processing capacity. Other money could be used to address livestock surpluses or provide indemnity for producers.
The full Senate will vote on the Appropriations Committee’s recommendations this week and send its version of the budget to the House. Any differences will be reconciled by a conference committee. The state budget is expected to be finalized before the Missouri Constitution’s 6:00 p.m. deadline on Friday, May 8. For more information about Sen. Brown, visit www.senate.mo.gov/brown