Press Release

McHenry Sends Letter to Acting Secretary of Agriculture on CARES Act Aid for NC Farmers

Recently, Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10) joined Congressmen Ted Budd (NC-13) and Dan Bishop (NC-09) in sending a letter to Acting Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Shea to advocate for reviewing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) eligibility requirements for broiler-breeders.

"Agriculture is the number one industry in North Carolina and is a leading industry in the Tenth District. Additionally, over 5,700 families across our state are involved in poultry and egg farming," said Congressman McHenry. "Yet currently, broiler-breeders who contract with larger companies are not eligible to participate in CFAP despite the important role they play in our food system. That is why I joined with my colleagues Congressman Budd and Congressman Bishop to advocate for a correction in how this key CARES Act program to assist farmers is implemented."

The text of the letter is below. A copy of the letter can be accessed by clicking here.

The Honorable Kevin Shea 
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture 
1400 Independence Avenue SW 
Washington, DC 20250 

Dear Secretary Shea, 

Thank you for your leadership and decisive action during these unprecedented and difficult times. 

Specifically, we want to applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its swift and effective implementation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which has provided billions of dollars in direct payments to ranchers and growers who saw a five percent or greater price decline in their commodities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As you may already know, agriculture is the leading industry in North Carolina, topping $92.7 billion. Of that, poultry production remains an economic driver in many communities across the state. More specifically, poultry accounts for $39.7 billion and supports over 148,000 jobs in our state. While these numbers highlight the significance of poultry in North Carolina, it's even more impressive that over 5,700 families across our state are involved in poultry and egg farming.

These broiler-breeders play a key role in our food system, as they raise the chickens that produce the eggs to eventually become broilers. Unfortunately, broiler-breeders that contract with companies like Mountaire, Pilgrim's Pride, or Tyson are currently not eligible for assistance under CFAP. USDA's position that broiler-breeders do not have ownership or production risk necessary for CF AP aid ignores the reality that procedures at every level of the food supply chain have suffered from decreased commodity prices. Without the survival of broiler-breeders, major chicken processing entities would suffer. 

Considering the fact that additional commodities were added between the first and second tranche of payments, we would like to know specifically why broiler-breeders were not included. Additionally, if there is a process to include them as a covered commodity, would you please delineate both the process for adding them and how long that fix would take to be implemented. 

As the Biden administration has temporarily halted further CFAP payments, we would ask that your department consider reviewing the eligibility requirements for broiler-breeders in light of their critical role within the chicken supply chain. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to hearing from you. 

Patrick McHenry
Member of Congress

Ted Budd
Member of Congress

Dan Bishop
Member of Congress