USDA to support US farmers with food purchase plans worth $470 million

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has put in place supports for the US agricultural sector through the provision of a food purchase plan to buy surplus food supplies.

In a statement on Monday, May 4, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of $470 million (€432.9 million) in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020.

This is in addition to purchases previously announced, which will enable the USDA to purchase surplus food for distribution to communities nationwide, the American authority revealed.

These Section 32 purchases will provide additional support for producers and Americans in need

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will purchase a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products.

f note, the department will purchase $120 (€110.5) million worth of dairy products, $50 (€46) million of turkey products, $50 million of potatoes, $35 (€32.2) million of strawberries, $30 (€27.6) million worth of pork and $30 million of chicken.

Purchases are determined by industry requests, market analysis and food bank needs, the authority said.

The AMS will begin issuing solicitations in June and intends to begin deliveries in July.

Industry requests for future purchases using Section 32 funds, including potential plans for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020, will be assessed on an ongoing basis, the department added.

Commenting, Secretary Perdue said: “President Trump has authorized USDA to support our farmers affected by this national emergency and this action to purchase food and deliver to those in need further demonstrates his unwavering support for the American people during these unprecedented times.

America’s farmers and ranchers have experienced a dislocated supply chain caused by the coronavirus. USDA is in the unique position to purchase these foods and deliver them to the hungry Americans who need it most.

In addition to Section 32 purchases, USDA said it will use other available funds to purchase food in support of American agriculture and families on an ongoing basis and in response to recent disruptions in the food-supply chains.

The US food industry is experiencing high inventories due to a decrease in demand as food-service establishments, restaurants and schools have closed and prices producers typically receive have declined, the USDA said.

Meanwhile, food banks, food pantries and other organisations supporting communities across the country have experienced an increase in demand.

Using these available funds, USDA “plans to purchase 100% American-grown and produced agricultural products totalling $4.89 (€4.5) billion for the remainder of this fiscal year in support of American agriculture and people in need”.