Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

USDA Food Purchases to Help Farmers, Food Banks

Podcasts / Newsline April 23, 2020

Credit: Feeding America 

USDA food purchases as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program fulfill a recent request by the American Farm Bureau Federation and Feeding America. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes $3 billion of commodity purchases for food banks. American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Megan Nelson says AFBF requested that USDA purchase commodities as part of the aid package to help farmers and consumers.

Nelson: This is a really great step in the right direction. This program will definitely help get excess food into food banks, which is going to help out our farmers and help food banks facing huge increases in demands. And, it’s something that American Farm Bureau and Feeding America have partnered to ask USDA to do so. So, we’re very happy that this program is getting legs under it and getting moving.

Clements: The program includes fresh produce, dairy and meat. Nelson says USDA will partner with regional distributors to purchase the food items.

Nelson: The procurement process will follow a more streamlined version of the Commodity Assistance program that’s been in place at USDA for some time now and it’s estimating that it’s going to try to be buying about $100 million per month of each product line item.

Clements: The COVID-19 pandemic has consumers purchasing more food for use at home, than away from home. Through the program, food distributors will provide pre-approved boxes of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks to fulfill that demand.

Nelson: This is something that is going to be really helping our farmers to get a streamline supply chain to get products that they are producing in abundance, and get it where it’s needed most and where the demand is. And, that’s why these preapproved boxes of some of the most perishable foods is really going to help out our farmers.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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