New stimulus plan designates billions for agriculture industry

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) – Small businesses come in all forms. People often talk about the problems facing retailers and restaurants, but the state is highlighting one industry that many others lean on to get what they need: agriculture.

Weathering the pandemic has not been easy for anyone. But some in the agriculture industry are finding a silver lining in the midst of the crisis.

Despite a nationwide economic recession and a statewide drought, fruit producer Harrison Topp said his farm has been able to manage thanks to support of different programs geared toward making sure Coloradans are not hungry.

“There was a lot of additional money that was out there in the food system, in the supply chain that were designed to help people that were food insecure, designed to help small businesses, restaurants, people who aggregated and dealt with us delivering food and supplying food,” Topp said.

Colorado lawmakers passed a funding plan to support food pantries, with local producers playing a big role.

“Just a few weeks ago, the food pantry assistance program was reenacted and authorized at $5 million with a preference for Colorado products,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “So that really drives procurement, sourcing to Colorado farms and ranches. The bottom line, of course, is making sure we keep people fed and the ag community has really stepped up.”

Now, more relief from Washington is heading their way. The new stimulus package allocates $13 billion to support the agricultural industry. Greenberg said Colorado is taking another step after the aid didn’t reach some in need earlier this year.

“We actually worked with Gov. Polis to get almost $2 million in CARES Act funding directed to those producers and small and midscale processors who fell through the cracks of federal aid. We were really grateful for that. Those dollars are getting out the door almost as we speak,” Greenberg said.

While leaders are still waiting to learn more about how the funding will be dispersed around the state, they are confident more people will get the help they need now.

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