USDA announced Wednesday plans to spend at least $6 billion on new pandemic aid programs that reach a broader swath of producers than previous efforts, while putting “a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers (and) timber harvesters.”
On Tuesday, Vilsack took part in a wide-ranging interview with Agri-Pulse from his home in Iowa, touching on subjects ranging from helping farmers through the COVID-19 pandemic to addressing the “cumulative effect of discrimination over a long period of time.”
An Agri-Pulse analysis shows that the Trump administration's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments were distributed more widely than traditional forms of government assistance although larger farms continue to receive the big share of the money.
Farm earnings are broadly expected to ease this year, although USDA's latest farm income forecast projects skyrocketing prices for key commodities will help offset a steep drop in government payments and increases in production costs.
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.
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.
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.
Farmers who were facing a steep drop in government payments in 2021 will instead see a third round of coronavirus relief payments and other producers and ag processors left out of previous aid programs this year will get help this time, under a massive stimulus package and government funding bill.