Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressed confidence at a White House meeting Wednesday that the meat shortages that have forced supermarkets to limit purchases should ease as meatpacking plants fully reopen within the next 10 days.
Stung by scenes of farmers dumping milk and plowing under crops, the Trump administration is launching a never-before-tried plan to use the nation’s commercial food distributors to buy fresh produce, dairy products and meat and give them away to needy families across the country.
The full Senate returns to Washington for the first time since March, setting the stage for a partisan battle over the next big coronavirus aid bill and a growing list of requests from agriculture and other sectors for relief.
Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are now getting emergency benefit increases totaling $2 billion a month nationwide that Congress authorized to address the unemployment surge and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
USDA’s $19 billion COVID-19 aid package for farmers may fall well short of compensating producers for the estimated damage of the pandemic, and the department has an ambitious and novel plan to distribute USDA-purchased commodities to needy people.
Without government relief, some analysts are sharply lowering their estimates of net farm income because of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on agricultural markets, with the livestock sector and corn growers bearing much of the hit.