In Tuesday’s Newsmaker, we heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue with information on the $19 billion aid package for agriculture producers. Click below to hear the entire Newsmaker.

Like most other sectors of the American economy, agriculture has been hit hard by the coronavirus. The Trump Administration and USDA put together a $19 billion aid package to help producers through these trying times. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the aid package will come in two parts.

“First, there will be $16 billion in direct payments to our farmers and ranchers who’ve experienced unprecedented losses during this pandemic. This program is open to farmers and ranchers regardless of size or market outlet if they’ve suffered an eligible loss. In the second part of the program, USDA is committed to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, specialty crops, fruits, berries, vegetables, dairy, as well as meat protein to be distributed to those in need.”

The food distribution will be held in conjunction with private organizations and will go straight to food banks and other non-profit organizations that are helping people in need. Perdue says USDA will get the assistance checks out to farmers as quickly as possible.

Official Portrait of the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in Washington, DC. USDA photo by Ken Hammond, obtained from USDA Flickr photostream.

“USDA will implement this program as quickly, effectively, and efficiently as we can to provide as direct, quick, immediate financial relief to our farmers and ranchers, but also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural surplus to help our fellow Americans in need.”

He says Americans are quickly finding out just how important farmers and everyone in the food supply chain are to their daily lives.

“More than ever now, our country knows where our food comes from. They’re depending on our farmers and ranchers to grow and produce that food that we need to live, and I think in times of national emergencies such as this, that’s become even more apparent. The food supply chain has been resilient while having to adapt very quickly when food that used to go to restaurants now needs to go to retail outlets. When you really think about the fact that about half of our calories are consumed outside the home, that’s been a dramatic shift in our consumption pattern, and the misalignment of consumption and supply has created some real challenges here.”

The Ag Secretary says he knows that the money won’t cover all the losses agriculture is sustaining.

“We’ve looked ahead to help provide additional assistance with cost and disruption of the markets in the months ahead, not really knowing what the demand destruction would be. We know that the disruption of markets and demand is significant, and these payments will only cover a portion of the impact on farmers and ranchers.”

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue

 

Feature Image:USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.