California’s produce farmers and processors are confused and concerned by a raft of letters from Chinese importers, demanding they provide guarantees in writing that their fruit and vegetables present no risk of spreading COVID-19, something that is not considered a threat by U.S. or international health agencies.
China is reaching out to processors of meat, seafood and other food around the globe, asking them to provide proof of “mitigation efforts” to keep facilities free of COVID-19, industry and government sources tell Agri-Pulse.
Cattle, dairy and hog producers as well as corn and soybean growers are expected to collect the largest shares of USDA’s $16 billion in coronavirus relief payments, which are designed to compensate for losses in sales or market value between January and April.
Farm groups are awaiting the release any day of USDA’s requirements for $16 billion in direct payments to compensate producers for the market losses caused by the coronavirus crisis. OMB completed its review of the planned program on Friday.
House Democrats released a massive new coronavirus relief bill that would provide $16.5 billion in additional direct payments to farmers and authorize USDA to compensate producers who have to dispose of livestock and poultry that can’t be sold because of processing disruptions.
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.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA wants to provide relief from the COVID-19 crisis to eligible farm sectors “sooner rather than later,” but the department will have to wait until this summer at the earliest to distribute an additional $14 billion in aid.
Produce industry groups are asking the Agriculture Department for up to $5 billion in payments to compensate growers and dealers for losses they suffered when restaurants, schools and colleges suddenly closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.