Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

USDA Approves $1.2 Billion in Food Purchases

Podcasts / Newsline May 12, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the approval of $1.2 billion in contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Chad Smith has more.

Smith: The Farmers to Families Food Box Program is designed to get excess meat, dairy, and produce to families facing shortages of food. Megan Nelson is an Economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation and says now that the contracts have been announced, the Food and Nutrition Service will take over and get food to those in need.

Nelson: They’re going to manage the food and nutrition assistance programs. This is what they normally do under their purview at USDA, and now they’re going to be looking into the qualified recipients of various USDA food programs and coordinating those purchases with food banks in need.

Smith: Not only will these purchases get food in the hands of people who need it, this will also help American farmers deal with extra commodities sitting in storage or being destroyed.

Nelson: These purchases from USDA are really going to help in removing the excess supply from the market, and this is a benefit that really ripples across the supply chain to help improve commodity prices and help out U.S. farmers and ranchers.

Smith: Nelson says the commodities that will benefit the most from the program are some of the most perishable.

Nelson: $461 million are going to go to fresh fruits and vegetables, with $317 million in a variety of dairy products, with a focus on fluid milk, and $258 million are going to meat products, with another $175 million in a combination of fresh produce, dairy, and meat produce boxes.

Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.

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