USDA announces coronavirus food assistance program
On April 17, the USDA announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. The $19 billion relief program will provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of the U.S. food supply chain and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.
“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,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “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.”
CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities. The program includes two major elements to achieve these goals:
• Direct Support to Farmers and Ranchers: The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.
• USDA Purchase and Distribution: USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. We will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.
On top of these targeted programs USDA will utilize other available funding sources to purchase and distribute food to those in need.
USDA has up to an additional $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs.
The FFCRA and CARES Act provides at least $850 million for food bank administrative costs and USDA food purchases, of which a minimum of $600 million will be designated for food purchases. The use of these funds will be determined by food bank need and product availability.
In related news, on April 15 American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall was appointed to the Great American Economic Revival Industry Group for Agriculture, one of 17 industry groups appointed by President Donald Trump. The bipartisan groups will work with the White House “to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” according to a White House press release.