The USDA announced Monday that it will be spending an additional $470 million this year on a wide variety of ag products, sparking cheers from farm groups and lawmakers.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, through its Section 32 authority, will use customs receipts to buy up more potatoes, chicken, cherries, sweet potatoes, pork, asparagus, pears, orange juice, dairy, seafood, catfish, prunes, strawberries, turkey, and raisins. The purchases will come on top of the products AMS is already budgeted to buy for feeding programs across the country.

“These Section 32 purchases will help both Americans who need high-quality nutritious food as well as U.S. dairy farmers who are experiencing unprecedented losses from the COVID-19 national emergency,” said National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “The purchases will provide important and needed support to the dairy supply chain. We look forward to learning more details and to continue working with USDA on possible additional purchases.”

The dairy industry has been one of the hardest hit ag sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail buying has increased but sales to the food service sector have dried up, thanks to the shuttering of restaurants, hotels and schools across the U.S. and internationally.

AMS will be buying an additional $120 million worth of dairy over the next couple of months.

Potato farmers have also been hit hard by the closure of the hotel, restaurant and industrial food sector; the National Potato Council lauded the additional $50 million worth of spuds AMS will buy.

“Given the size of the crisis involving potatoes, this purchase is a partial down payment on the industry’s overall relief needs and more will be needed,” said NPC President Britt Raybould. “In the short term, the announcement is very positive in that it provides clarity on the immediate relief efforts and gives family farms hope for more to come.”

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Farmers and state groups have already given away millions of pounds of potatoes to charities and food banks “incurring substantial financial losses in support of the needy despite their own businesses being threatened by the pandemic,” Raybould said. “We desperately need Congress and the Administration’s partnership to defend America’s family farms in this crisis and believe today’s announcement is a positive step in that long road.”

The new Section 32 purchases also come on top of $3 billion in emergency spending under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that USDA will use to purchase fresh produce, dairy and meat. USDA says it plans to distribute those purchases through its Families to Farmers Food Box program.

A complete list of commodities and the amount spent on each can be seen below. 



Catfish Products




Dairy Products


Haddock, Pollock, Redfish (Atlantic)


Orange Juice




Pollock (Alaska)












Sweet Potatoes


Tart Cherries


Turkey Products




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