Secretary of Agriculture also said the COVID-19 response plan will include ag product purchases
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the government wants to provide farmers with the aid they’ve sought as relief from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Perdue said on Fox Business on Wednesday that the government aims to make direct payments to farmers and purchase agricultural products.
“We want to have direct payments to farmers, but more importantly … we want to purchase as much of this milk or other protein products – hams and pork products – and move them in to where they could be utilized in our food banks, and possibly even to international humanitarian aid,” Perdue said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to unveil an agriculture industry aid plan this week.
Pleas for help
Producer groups, including the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association, have asked for various forms of aid to help them respond to the pandemic’s effects on their industries.
The dairy groups issued a joint Milk Crisis Plan that outlines ways to address the problem. And, in a media call on April 14, the (NPPC) said it is asking for “massive” pork purchases by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as payments to producers to help make up for losses of up to US$50 per pig that producers are experiencing.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Feeding America also sent a joint letter last week to Perdue to recommend steps that should be taken to ensure that food banks are stocked and to help farmers respond to shifting demands.
“As you are aware, food banks are under tremendous pressure to meet the skyrocketing demand,” the letter said. “At the same time, however, we are seeing literally tons of agricultural goods being discarded because of the shutdown of so much of the economy. Paradoxically, we are seeing a simultaneous surge in demand at a moment when many farmers are being told there is an oversupply of their product. The unfortunate consequences include public panic about an adequate food supply and plunging prices for farm produce.”