Perdue launches the food purchase program
With the help of Eric Wolff
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– The Department of Agriculture is stepping up its purchases of food surpluses, focusing on fresh produce, dairy, meat and seafood, using large purchasing power that commodity groups have been begging the USDA to use for weeks.
– The Trump administration gave the green light to small farmers on Monday apply for loans in the event of an economic disaster, after lawmakers in agricultural states complained that farm businesses were being excluded from the lending program amid a backlog of applicants.
– Congress is full of ideas on how the USDA should help farmers. From the Chicken Caucus to Blueberry supporters, lawmakers are still trying to shape the federal farm bailout effort as they prepare to negotiate a new stimulus package.
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LOST COMPOUNDS THE FOOD PURCHASE PROGRAM: The department said Monday it would buy surplus food like milk, meat and produce that has been wasted as farmers and ranchers dump perishables and euthanize livestock due to the disruption on Monday for $ 470 million. the supply chain caused by the pandemic, Hélène writes.
Using the broad authority the USDA has had since the Depression era, Known as Section 32 purchases, officials will buy these excess products and redistribute them to food banks, school feeding programs and other efforts to help starving Americans. It is separate from the $ 3 billion ad hoc commodity purchase program Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in mid-April as part of a larger farm bailout program.
Farmer groups demand Perdue wield the purchasing power of the department to help farmers whose markets disappeared when schools, restaurants and other businesses began closing in March. But the USDA took a long time to intervene, even with an increase in demand at food banks as unemployment increased.
What is on the menu? Much of the new funds will be used to purchase dairy products ($ 120 million), potatoes and turkey products ($ 50 million each) and strawberries ($ 35 million). Chicken, catfish, pollock, asparagus, sweet potatoes, tart cherries and orange juice are also on the list. Food purchases are expected to ship in July, the USDA said.
LOANS IN CASE OF ECONOMIC DISASTER NOW OPEN TO SMALL FARMS: As we covered in Monday’s edition, farmers and ranchers are stuck behind a long line of businesses seeking economic disaster loans – a source of frustration among state farm lawmakers who recently passed legislation ensure that agricultural businesses could be eligible for the program. On Monday, the Small Business Administration decided to crush the problem by reopening the application window for newly eligible farm businesses only, your host reports.
How we got here: SBA administrator Jovita Carranza said the agency was banned from providing disaster relief to the farming industry for decades, until Congress in late April approved new funding for the EIDL program and a provision allowing small farmers to receive loans. But because so many companies had already applied for loans, the SBA first decided to use the new funds to process those requests instead of accepting new ones.
While we are here: Let’s take a look at the SBA’s most famous payroll protection program, another loan option that farmers initially struggled to access. On Friday, the agency had approved over $ 175 billion in forgivable loans the second round of funding that Congress provided two weeks ago.
The SBA didn’t break it down by industry this time around. In the first round, companies from agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing raised nearly $ 4.4 billion, much less than other sectors such as construction ($ 45 billion) and manufacturing ($ 41 billion).
In a letter to the agency today, Senator Tammy baldwin (D-Wis.) Calls on officials to rethink how they determine the eligibility of agricultural producers to seek PPP loans. Some farmers were excluded because they were not profitable in 2019 or were unable to post wage costs, she said.
ALL AG AID IDEAS: Now that the Senate is back in session, Congress will soon negotiate another potentially massive coronavirus response measure. In the meantime, lawmakers are putting their farm rescue ideas on paper. Here is a summary of the latest proposals:
The Senate Chicken Caucus issued a letter to Perdue asking him to keep chicken farmers in mind as the USDA prepares to distribute direct payments to the agricultural sector. The plan includes $ 9.6 billion in assistance to cattle ranchers, but it is split among cattle, hog and dairy producers.
“Chicken farmers across the country have been forced to depopulate millions of healthy birds in response to substantial reductions in processing capacity.” wrote the senators.
Senator King angus (I-Maine) wants the USDA to change its definition of “fresh produce” to ensure that freshly frozen wild blueberries are eligible for the ministry’s relief program, PA reports. He is also asking for help for the state’s potato industry.
And a group of House Democrats today presented dozens of political ideas to be taken into account in the next stimulus plan, with a focus on small farmers, organic producers and those who sell to local food systems such as farmers’ markets. “This vital and growing part of the economy is too often overlooked and receives too little support even though it is very important in so many of our communities,” the representative wrote. Chellie pingree (D-Maine) and 24 other members in a letter to House leaders, which was shared with MA.
THE USDA LET’S TAKE A BONE IN THE BIOFUELS SECTOR: The department on Monday launched a $ 100 million grant program build new infrastructure for more biofuel richer gasoline blends at service stations and other facilities. The funding was announced in February, our friends at Pro Energy tell MA, but at least that’s good news for the hard-hit industry.
Ethanol producers shut down half of their nationwide operations due to the sharp drop in gasoline consumption. But they were excluded from USDA’s first agricultural aid program despite heavy pressure from state corn lawmakers.
Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, said the group is still focused on “getting immediate help” for producers, but “investments in infrastructure now will help secure long-term growth and help ethanol demand recover faster once the economy begins to reopen “.
CHLORINE CHICKEN AT THE LAUNCH OF US-UK TALKS: Our friends from POLITICO Europe have a useful insight into five things to watch out for as trade negotiations between Washington and London begin today, by teleconference. Problems related to food and agriculture are at the top of the list:
UK wants lower tariffs on agricultural exports to US Take cheddar cheese, which faces tariffs of up to 17.6 percent. But how to deal with agricultural products flowing in the other direction is much more controversial …
First of all, the Trump administration wants London to ease restrictions on chemically rinsed poultry, genetically modified crops and hormone-treated beef. But British farmers fear being underestimated by cheaper American products that do not meet the same production standards.
STAFF CHANGES: US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Chief of Staff Jamieson Greer has left the administration for a position at King & Spalding law firm, reports Adam Behsudi of Pro Trade.
Greer has been one of Lighthizer’s closest advisors since 2017 and played a key role in trade negotiations with China and the USMCA negotiations. Kevin Garvey, who was Greer’s deputy, was promoted to chief of staff.
– More than 370 workers at the Triumph Foods pork plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, have tested positive for the coronavirus, state health officials said on Monday. Slaughterhouses across the country continue to report high numbers of cases even as some sites prepare to reopen following President Donald Trump’s executive order to keep the industry operating. CNN has the details.
– Countries begin to roll back export restrictions as fears of global food shortages ease. Of at least 17 countries that have imposed protectionist trade measures to isolate their national food supply, half have already backed down, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. More from Bloomberg.
– Europe is preparing for an increase in hunger and malnutrition due to the pandemic. Jacques Vandenschrik, president of the European Federation of Food Banks, predicted that the number of people facing food insecurity could double, although the impact in Europe might not be so severe due to the social safety nets of the ‘EU, by POLITICO Europe.
– Beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Nevada will be able to use their benefits online after USDA on Monday approved the state to participate in the growing pilot program.