USDA Announces $19 Billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Friday announced the $19 billion immediate relief program Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.
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.
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.
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 provided an 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.
Further details regarding eligibility, rates and other implementation will be released at a later date.
“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,” Perdue said. “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. 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.”