On Friday evening, the White House and the USDA detailed a $19 billion rescue package for farmers and ranchers, to be funded from the CARES Act and other coronavirus spending bills. The package will include direct payments and commodity purchases with the dual purpose to support farmers and ranchers and provide a means to get food that otherwise would not have reached the market to those in need.
While we are all still learning the details of the package as well as how it will be implemented, here are some of the highlights from the USDA announcement:
The USDA will buy $3 billion in surplus food to distribute to food banks and organizations helping to feed people in need. This is in addition to the $850 million provided in the congressional stimulus legislation for food purchases and administrative costs of food banks.
$16 billion will be used for direct payments to farmers and ranchers, which includes $2.1 billion for specialty crop producers.
An additional $500 million could be provided to sectors that may include floriculture, although USDA has not announced how this funding will be determined and distributed.
There is no reason for healthy food to be left in the fields while people line up at food banks. We fully support the Administration’s move to ensure that our industry has the means to help get our nutritious products to those in need. There are still many questions regarding the impact and implementation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and we are committed to providing updates and guidance as those details become available.
PMA will continue to advocate for our produce and floral industry members who are essential workers providing products essential to the health and happiness of all consumers. Thank you for all you do.