New Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is a two part financial aid to the ag sector: $16 billion dollars direct payments to farmers and ranchers, and $3 billion dollars to purchase products for food banks.

The $16 billion dollars going to farmers and ranchers will be divided by ag groups. It is reported that $9.6 billion dollars will go to livestock, $3.9 billion dollars will go to row crops, over $2 billion dollars will go to specialty crops, and a half a million dollars will go to other sectors.

To be eligible for this program you must prove a 5 percent commodity price lost from January to April. Those approved will receive a one time payment that will cover 85 percent of lost crops for those months and cover 30 percent of expected losses.

In regard to food banks and pantries, the USDA will buy $3 billion dollars of meat, dairy and other fresh produce.

Some predictions show that the cattle industry may lose $14 billion dollars in this pandemic. Other sectors believe the USDA is not doing enough. Geoff Cooper, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, stated, “While we appreciate that the USDA’s new program provides needed assistance to the nation’s farmers and ranchers, it is unfortunate and disappointing that the 350,000 workers supported by the America’s ethanol industry were left behind.”

The USDA did state that it is likely more aid will be needed as the year progresses. Secretary Sonny Perdue stated, “Many people will feel like its insufficient; but we are doing everything we can to cover as many people, both smaller farmers and larger farmers.”

For all updates on the Coronavirus and how it impacts Rural America, visit our Coronavirus outbreak hub.