The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been steadily implementing several Coronavirus assistance initiatives over the past few months to help mitigate some of the impacts on farmers and ranchers. One of the most significant projects has been the implementation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke with AgNet Media about some of the successes of the program thus far.
“Nothing in the federal government ever moves as quickly as I’d like for it to, but this was a program that we charged our people to have up and running by the end of May,” Perdue noted. “It’s moving pretty well. We’ve had a lot of applications already all over the country and checks are already going out.”
A total of $16 billion in funding support is being made available through CFAP. While Secretary Perdue acknowledges that the farm payments will not completely make up for damages incurred as a result of the pandemic, USDA will continue working to make the program more helpful for the industry. “There’s always things that you miss and that’s what we’re looking at right now to see where the holes in the program are so we can move forward correcting it with the next movement,” said Perdue.
The Farmers to Families Food Box Program was another USDA initiative to address multiple issues within the same program, which Secretary Perdue describes as “a win-win-win.” The shutdown of restaurants and other foodservice outlets created a dramatic drop in demand for some farm products. The $3 billion program allows USDA to purchase food from farmers to be distributed through food banks and other non-profits.
“We asked our guys to go to work and within 30 days they set up this Farmers to Families Food Box Program which helps producers, it helps distributors in the middle that were typically handling this produce, as well as the needy who need the food,” Perdue explained. “So, we’re excited about it.”