Congress Looks to Reward Front-Line Grocery Workers

Gina Acosta
a woman smiling for the camera
Congress Looks to Reward COVID-19 Front Line Workers
Nine in 10 registered voters consider food supply chain workers—grocery store workers (93%), agricultural and food production workers (90%), and farm workers (89%) —"essential” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has introduced a bill that would allow grocery workers on the front lines of COVID-19 to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.

Under Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act, federal income taxes would be suspended for essential workers up to an annual income cap set at the highest level of pay for an enlisted person in the U.S. Armed Forces. Additionally, the bill would provide suspension of federal payroll taxes for essential workers who earn up to $50,000 annually.

A number of food industry groups — including the National Restaurant Association, the Food Industry Association (FMI), the International Dairy Foods Association, and 24 other -- have written a letter in support of Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act. 

“Our essential workers have risen to the challenge and continued in their daily jobs – to care for and protect Iowans, to produce and deliver food and essential goods, and to uphold our nation’s critical infrastructure throughout this pandemic,” Ernst said. “These front line workers—our nurses, truck drivers, and grocery store workers, child care providers, and so many others—have kept life going and our supply chains intact. These men and women are putting the interests of their fellow Americans ahead of their own. Each and every morning they wake up and go to work, and they should be rewarded for their selfless service.”

Nine in 10 registered voters consider food supply chain workers—grocery store workers (93%), agricultural and food production workers (90%), and farm workers (89%) —"essential” amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey performed by Morning Consult for the International Dairy Foods Association. The survey further states that a strong majority of registered voters support offering temporary tax relief amid the coronavirus pandemic to essential workers.

“The grocery industry and the food supply chain that supports it have worked tirelessly to keep food available to American customers during the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of tremendous challenges. The FRNT LINE Act appropriately recognizes these efforts and gives our frontline associates well-deserved tax relief for their commitment to ensuring that grocery stores are open and stocked continuously during this national emergency.  FMI greatly appreciates Senator Ernst’s leadership on this important legislation,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, FMI - The Food Industry Association.

In April, Ernst wrote an op-ed on about her proposal to reward essential workers. Read that here.

“As the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) poll conducted by Morning Consult finds, a vast majority of U.S. voters across all political spectrums strongly support providing temporary tax relief to our essential workers in food, agriculture, grocery stores and other important parts of the food supply chain,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of IDFA. “We are grateful to Senator Ernst of Iowa for introducing legislation to do just that—honor the men and women performing essential services that keep us fed and protected every day throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We urge all members of Congress to support Senator Ernst’s bill and a similar House bill (H.R. 6841), which would provide targeted relief to workers on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis.”

For bill text of the FRNT LINE Act, click here.

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