White House to give $19B in farmer aid

Source: By RYAN MCCRIMMON, Politico • Posted: Sunday, April 19, 2020

Trump has counted farmers and rural voters among his most solid supporters.

On Friday, the National Pork Producers Council said hog producers’ slice of the aid package will “fall short of what is truly needed.”

“While the direct payments to hog farmers will offset some losses for some farmers, they are not sufficient to sustain the varied market participants, including those who own hogs as well as thousands of contract growers who care for pigs,” NPPC President Howard A.V. Roth said in a statement.

The Renewable Fuels Association said USDA “missed a crucial opportunity” to help biofuel producers in crisis as drivers stay off the roads and gasoline consumption plummets. The group said it’s “unfortunate and disappointing that the 350,000 workers supported by America’s ethanol industry were left behind.”

Perdue said USDA wasn’t given enough money by Congress to fully address all the farmers in need.

“Frankly at this point there’s just not enough money to go around,” he said. “The demand from all the sectors was even more than we could accommodate at this time.”

The secretary also said hemp growers could be eligible for aid “if they demonstrate a loss.”

As for the commodity purchases, the department said it will start by procuring about $100 million per month each of meat, dairy and fresh produce. Participating distributors and wholesalers will then send pre-approved boxes of the goods to food banks, faith-based organizations, community groups and other nonprofits, according to the summary.

Congress last month authorized the Agriculture Department to spend more than $23 billion to boost hard-hit sectors including livestock and dairy producers, specialty crop growers and producers who sell to local food systems like farmers markets. Some of those sectors have been struggling for years from trade headwinds, labor shortages, low commodity prices and the rapid consolidation in agriculture.

Farmers have also struggled to access separate pieces of the $2 trillion stimulus package, including forgivable small business loans aimed at helping employers keep their workers on the payroll.