New legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Centre, would provide a federal tax holiday and payroll tax exemption for essential employees in the food and agriculture industry who are working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Assistance and Gratitude for Coronavirus Heroes in Agribusiness who are Invaluable to the Nation Act would exempt those workers from paying federal taxes on income earned Feb. 15 through June 15.

Certain workers, as determined by U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidelines, who earn less than $75,000 annually would be eligible. They would include, but not be limited to, employees who support grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores or work at carry-out and quick-serve restaurants, food manufacturers, farms and ranches.

“These are people that are working each and every day on the front lines to make sure that our families can have what we need to have to sustain ourselves,” said Thompson, who represents the 15th Congressional District that includes most of Cambria County, during a telephone interview on Wednesday afternoon.

The AG CHAIN Act, which was co-authored by U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, would extend the Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief Act that proposed an identical federal tax holiday for grocery and convenience store employees. The GROCER Act was also introduced by Thompson and Evans.

Both bills would provide the U.S. Department of Treasury the ability to extend the benefit for three months.