April 17, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Hannah Packman, 202.554.1600
WASHINGTON – As the food and agriculture industries experience significant disruptions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released initial details for a $19 billion emergency aid package to support farmers and ranchers and bolster food security.
The agency plans to provide $16 billion in direct support to family farmers and ranchers, $9.5 billion of which was allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The other $6.5 billion will be sourced from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Information about how, when, and to whom these funds will be disbursed has not yet been announced. USDA will also purchase $3 billion worth of fresh produce, dairy, and meat, which will be redistributed to food pantries and other non-profit organizations that serve Americans experiencing food insecurity.
This relief could not come soon enough, according to National Farmers Union (NFU). In a recent letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the organization highlighted the significant financial pressures family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring as a result of the pandemic and urged him to “swiftly and efficiently implement assistance and distribute resources.”
Following the USDA’s announcement, NFU President Rob Larew expressed appreciation for the agency’s efforts to provide much-needed relief and reiterated the importance of dividing aid fairly and establishing longer-term solutions to market challenges:
“In good times and bad, family farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to put food on our tables. But right now, they are facing immense challenges. Critical markets have evaporated overnight, demand has shifted dramatically, processing facilities have halted operations, and commodity prices have cratered – all of which are cutting into already-thin margins. Without immediate assistance, many more family farms could be forced out of business, which would devastate rural communities and threaten our food supply.
“We appreciate the administration’s commitment to help farmers weather this storm. To ensure the most effective use of these funds, payments must be commensurate with demonstrated need, and should be implemented in conjunction with policy that addresses fundamental market challenges. Failure to do so will result in the further consolidation of America’s farms, which will weaken our national food security.”
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.