US announces $19 billion COVID-19 aid package to help farmers
President Donald Trump has announced a $19 billion dollar coronavirus relief plan specifically for farmers and ranchers.
In making the announcement on Friday, April 17, the President said that included in the plan will be both direct payments to individuals and a program to purchase food from U.S. farmers and ranchers to be distributed throughout the country through food banks.
"The program will include direct payments to farmers as well as mass purchases of dairy, meat and agricultural produce to get that food to the people in need," Trump said.
In July, the USDA is expected to receive another $14 billion to assist with funding.
"During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of," said Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue said in a press release .
"The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America's farmers and ranchers," Perdue continued. "This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need."
Perdue said the Coronavirus Food Assistance program would consist of two parts.
"One is a direct payment.....$16 billion dollars in direct payments to farmers, ranchers and producers who experienced unprecedented losses during this pandemic."
Funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) amounting to $6.5 billion will be used to expedite the payments, combined with $19.5 billion in coronavirus relief funding. This will be done instead of waiting for funding of the CCC to reoccur in July.
The second part of the program is expected to include a $3 billion total purchase of foodstuffs from American food producers that is expected to be given to charitable organizations for distribution.
"Having to dump milk or plow under vegetables ready to market is not only financially distressing," Perdue said, "but it's heartbreaking as well to those who produce them."
According to the USDA, the food donation program will begin by purchasing $300 million in meat, dairy and produce per month for local and regional distribution.