Industry trade associations are applauding lawmakers for introducing legislation that would provide a federal tax holiday and a payroll tax exemption for all essential employees in the food and agriculture industry, defined as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security.
The bill, known as the Assistance and Gratitude for Coronavirus Heroes in Agribusiness who are Invaluable to the Nation, or the AG CHAIN Act, is an extension of the GROCER Act that was introduced by the same legislators last month. The previous bill (Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief) proposed the same tax relief benefits for workers in grocery and convenience stores. The changes introduced this week extends the benefit to agricultural workers.
“We need to help the workers who are keeping America fed during this crisis. This bipartisan bill would complement our proposed GROCER Act by helping even more of the people who are doing just that, and I believe it’s something that most of us should be able to agree on,” said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), one of the sponsors of the bill. U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-Pa.) was the other sponsor.
The provisions would take place from Feb. 15 through June 15 for individuals making less than $75,000 annually. The bill would also provide discretion to the Treasury to extend this benefit for an additional three months.
“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, independent grocers and wholesalers have made nothing less than heroic efforts to keep the food supply chain humming, using every tool in their toolbox to restock and replenish shelves and serve their communities,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association (NGA).
Chris Jones, SVP of government relations for the NGA, added that grocery workers have been tireless in their efforts to serve their communities and the act “honors these supermarket superheroes and will help boost the income of workers that show up for work every day. We will continue to leverage the power of independent grocers grassroots and work with our champions in Congress to pass this needed piece of legislation.”
FMI–the Food Industry Association also weighed in with support of the bill, as did the National Association of Convenience Stores, the American Bakers Association and the National Restaurant Association.
“Supermarket workers and our supply chain partners remain on the job and are truly essential to America’s coronavirus response,” said Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer for FMI. “The AG CHAIN Act of 2020 recognizes the efforts of the food industry and gives our front-line associates well-deserved tax relief for their commitment to ensuring that grocery stores are open and stocked during this national emergency.”