After nearly two months of waiting, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers can now apply for COVID-19 financial assistance through the federal government.
“Conditions are bad enough that we are worried about mental health of a lot of our farmers,” Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Rodd Moesel said. “Some people are on the verge of bankruptcy and wondering if they can keep the doors open another week or another month.”
He said Ag commodity prices were already in a four- to five-year slump when COVID-19 shut down institutional food channels like restaurants, school cafeterias and concession stands, which make up 54% of food sales.
“We had some grain crops, many animal crops, that saw reductions of 15, 20, 30, 40% drops in price,” Moesel said. “So, if your crops coming off and ready to go to market at that time, in many cases, you had no choice but to go ahead and market it even though you're going to take big hits.”
Now, the federal government is offering to cover up to 85% of those losses. There is a $250,000 limit per person. It’s part of a $16 billion package approved by Congress in March, just now available to farmers.
Moesel said he’s pleased with support provided to farmers by Oklahoma’s state and federal lawmakers.
“It's a lot easier to see the problems than it is the answers,” he said. “There's no easy or simple answer. Just keep eating hearty, buying food. Ultimately that's going to help farmers.”