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U.S. announces $19 billion coronavirus aid for farmers, food for poor

Christian Fernsby |
President Donald Trump on Friday announced a $19 billion relief program to help U.S. farmers cope with the impact of the coronavirus, including $16 billion in direct payments to producers and mass purchases of meat, dairy, vegetables and other products.

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Topics: U.S.    CORONAVIRUS    FARM    FOOD   

The U.S. Agriculture Department is partnering with regional and local distributors to purchase $3 billion in such farm goods to be distributed to food banks, churches and aid groups as millions of Americans face unemployment with much of the economy shut down.

“American agriculture has been hard-hit, like most of America, with the coronavirus, and President Trump is standing with our farmers and all Americans to make sure that we all get through this national emergency,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a White House news conference.

The agency said it will make monthly purchases totaling about $100 million each of fresh produce, dairy products and meat products. Perdue said USDA will work with companies to help procure, package and distribute food boxes.

Long lines have formed at U.S. food banks in recent weeks.

Farmers and ranchers have struggled to get their goods to market because of disruption caused by the pandemic, forcing some to throw out food and call for government help.

“Having to dump milk or plow under vegetables ready to market is not only financially distressing but it’s heartbreaking as well for those that produce them,” Perdue said.

Direct payments will be sent “as quickly as possible” as farm commodity producers have experienced “unprecedented losses,” Perdue said, who hoped checks could be sent by the end of May.

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