US Farm Bureau tells USDA to help US farmers immediately

The American Farm Bureau Federation has urged the USDA to make special direct payments to dairy producers, livestock farmers and cattle ranchers.
calendar icon 6 April 2020
clock icon 2 minute read

According to reporting from Reuters, the Farm Bureau letter emphasised that US farmers need immediate financial help to counteract the coronavirus’ impact on the nation’s food supply chain.

In the letter sent on 3 April, the Farm Bureau asked that all sectors of US agriculture benefit from the coronavirus stimulus bill passed in March, which added $14 billion to the USDA's Commodity Credit Corp's spending authority and authorised an additional $9.5 billion to help livestock producers, dairy farmers, specialty crop farmers and local agricultural groups.

The six-page letter outlining the group's views on how it hoped USDA would dole out the stimulus funds noted "certain sectors of agriculture are particularly hard-hit", including dairy farmers.

The Farm Bureau also asked that USDA "immediately make purchases of dairy products including but not limited to fluid milk, butter, cheeses and dry milk powders," to help offset the loss of food service and school meal programs.

Widespread closures of restaurants and schools as part of social distancing measures to combat the spread of the virus have shifted the markets from wholesale food-service markets to retail grocery stores, creating logistical headaches for plants that process milk, butter and cheese.

As a result, a growing number of dairy farmers are being told by their cooperatives to dump their milk.

They're not alone, according to the letter, which said that "direct payments are needed for all specialty crop growers that are dumping products and experiencing income losses due to restaurant and retail closures."

The trade group also asked that USDA consider purchasing beef, pork, poultry and aquaculture products for distribution in food and nutrition programs.

The Commodity Credit Corporation, established during the Great Depression nearly a century ago, has been tapped by the Trump administration for nearly $30 billion in recent years to compensate farmers and assist the sector due to a trade conflict between the United States and China.

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