The Mississippi legislature appropriated $13 million of federal CARES funds toward three different agricultural programs during the last two days of the session. The legislature finally adjourned sine die the first week of October after the longest session on record. There were multiple breaks and resolutions to extend the session due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Senators Chuck Younger, Ben Suber and Philip Moran authored Senate Bill 3058, titled the Mississippi Agriculture Stabilization Act. SB 3058 creates three different grant programs: Poultry Farmer Stabilization Grant Program; Mississippi Supplemental CFAP Grant Program; and Sweet Potato Farm Sustainment Program. All three are geared toward helping Mississippi farmers from their business interruptions and costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Briggs Hopson authored the companion bill, Senate Bill 3061, which appropriated the $13 million from the federal CARES Act money to fund the programs.

Commissioner Andy Gipson and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce are tasked with implementing the grant program. The funds must be disbursed by December 15, 2020, in line with the CARES Act, or the funds will be transferred to the state’s unemployment trust fund.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and his staff, as well as Speaker Philip Gunn, Speaker Pro Temp Jason White, and Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar were all instrumental in the Mississippi Agriculture Stabilization Act passage. MFBF  also appreciates House Agriculture Chairman Bill Pigott, Vice Chairman Vince Mangold and Rep. Scott Bounds for their work on the House side to get this bill across the finish line.

“This much needed funding will help our farmers and ranchers who have experienced a financial loss because of the coronavirus pandemic,” MFBF President Mike McCormick said. “We look forward to Gov. Tate Reeves signing the bill and Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce administering the grant programs.”

To view the bill, click here.

In other news:

There are four Special Election Run Offs being held in Mississippi House or Senate districts today.

House District 37 (Clay, Lowndes, Oktibbeha) – David Chism v. Lynn Wright

House District 66 (Hinds) – De’Keither Stamps v. Bob Lee

Senate District 15 (Oktibbeha, Choctaw, Webster, and Montgomery) Joyce Yates v. Bart Williams

Senate District 39 (Copiah, Lawrence, Lincoln, and Walthall) – Bill Sones v. Jason Barrett