Joe Biden took office at noon Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, appealing to the nation to end its “uncivil war” and reach across partisan and urban-lines to address the “cascading crises” facing the country, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $900 billion COVID relief bill, passed in late December, is providing new funding for programs to help feed the millions of people whose jobs have been lost to the pandemic, but anti-hunger advocates say more help is needed and have already turned to Congress and the incoming Biden administration for help.
The outgoing Trump administration is tapping unspent USDA funding to provide coronavirus relief to contract producers for the first time while providing supplemental payments to hog farms. USDA also is adjusting payments calculations for many producers who have already received Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments.
President-elect Joe Biden is out with a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that includes some significant new food assistance provisions, including an extension through the summer of the 15% increase in SNAP benefits provided by the COVID aid package enacted in December.
A surge of nationwide cheese demand driven at least in part by the Trump administration’s Farmers to Families Food Box program sparked wild swings in dairy markets and fueled a new debate over changes in federal milk pricing policy made in the 2018 farm bill.
USDA officials tell Agri-Pulse they are working “amicably” with the Biden transition team, which is paving the way for the incoming administration next week. On the international front, the transition team has been pressing USDA for details on the impacts of the “phase one” trade deal with China.
The Agriculture Department is working to get some new coronavirus relief assistance to farmers as soon as possible, but much of the work may not be completed before President-elect Joe Biden takes office in two weeks.
Many states are falling behind in their early projections of how quickly they will be able to deploy COVID-19 vaccines, and many are still working to determine where ag workers will be on their vaccination prioritization schedules.
The coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for nearly every aspect of the global economy in 2020, and farm policy stakeholders were keeping a close eye on Agri-Pulse’s coverage of the virus and legislative efforts to lessen its blow throughout the year.