USDA announces $19B Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Posted at 3:56 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 19:41:47-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Friday they are putting $19 billion towards assisting farmers, ranchers and producers throughout the country.

Purdue said the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will assist the agricultural industry by providing direct relief to farmers, ranchers and producers, as well as assisting the American people.

The program will include direct payments to farmers, as well as mass purchases of dairy, meat, and agricultural produce to be delivered to food banks and other foo distributions sites to feed residents.

The program will be divided into two parts:

  1. $16B in direct payments to farmers, ranchers, and producers who experienced losses due to the coronavirus.
  2. The USDA to purchase $3B in fresh produce, dairy and meat products.

"Having to dump milk or plow under vegetables ready to market is not only financially distressing but it's heartbreaking as well to those who produce them," Perdue said.

In order to get payments out to the agricultural industry as fast as possible, the USDA will use funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation combined with the $19.5 of COVID-19 funds.

The agriculture industry quickly responded to the announcement of the new program.

“The entire rural economy has been affected by the sudden, severe shift in demand we’ve seen since the stay-at-home orders went into place,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “Farmers, ranchers, food processors and others along the food chain are working as rapidly as we can to be sure the food we produce can be redirected from restaurants, schools and other food service outlets to retail stores, where the demand has moved.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

“The assistance for farmers and ranchers must be distributed quickly and fairly, with enough safeguards to assure it reaches the appropriate people,” Johansson said. “We understand that can be a difficult balance, and we will continue to offer USDA our best advice on how to make this aid package as effective as possible for farmers, ranchers and all the people who depend on them.”