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.
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 like Sysco Corp (SYY.N) to help procure, package and distribute food boxes.
The $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers will include $9.6 billion for the livestock industry – with $5.1 billion for cattle, $2.9 billion for dairy and $1.6 billion for hogs, according to a statement released late Friday by U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee.
In addition, $3.9 billion will be paid to row crop producers, $2.1 billion for specialty crop farmers and $500 million for other crops, according to the statement. The payments are capped at $250,000 per individual farmer or entity.