Rep. Austin Scott Applauds USDA’s Commitment to Support American Farmers, Maintain Food Supply Chain During the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency
TIFTON, GA – Today, Representative Austin Scott (GA-08), a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, released the below statement upon U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announcing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will take several actions to assist farmers and consumers in response to the coronavirus national emergency. President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to agricultural producers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to have access to the food they need.
“Food security is national security, and it is vitally important that we ensure the stability of our nation’s food supply chain during this public health emergency,” said Rep. Scott. “I applaud President Trump and Secretary Perdue’s diligent work to support American farmers, our rural communities, and our agriculture sector during this time. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi reduced the funds available for rural America, but rest assured we are working to restore them.”
“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” said Secretary Perdue when announcing the program earlier today. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”
CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities. The program includes two major elements to achieve these goals:
- Direct Support to Farmers and Ranchers: The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.
- USDA Purchase and Distribution: USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. USDA will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.
Additionally, USDA will utilize other available funding sources to purchase and distribute food to those in need, including:
- USDA has up to an additional $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs.
- The FFCRA and CARES Act provided an at least $850 million for food bank administrative costs and USDA food purchases, of which a minimum of $600 million will be designated for food purchases. The use of these funds will be determined by food bank need and product availability.
Further details regarding eligibility, rates, and other implementation will be released at a later date. For more information on USDA’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic and resources available, please visit www.usda.gov/coronavirus.