13th District Congressman Rodney Davis has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture closely to help ensure that America’s food chain remains robust. Davis has been in close contact with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue about livestock and grain farmers having trouble finding markets for their products due to shut downs in the food processing and meat packing industries. Perdue announced yesterday that $19 billion in assistance for food banks and farmers was coming via the CARES Act.
Davis says he’s made sure that the USDA has been hearing firsthand accounts of farmers in the 13th District. “We’ve talked to the USDA about many issues not just livestock issues, which is a big concern especially to hog facilities and pork facilities here in Central Illinois. We’ve also talked about the over-supply of milk and produce. We ought to figure out a way to get those products through our food distribution networks, especially our regional food banks to be able to get those products out into the homes of people who are really hurting right now because they’ve loss their job or lost opportunities to have income. Those are things we’ve made sure the USDA and Secretary Perdue have heard from me firsthand.”
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through the USDA allots $3 billion in purchases of Ag products including meat, dairy, and produce for local food banks from producers. The USDA will work with local food and regional distributors to deliver food to food banks, as well as community and faith-based organizations to provide food to those in need. The program will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products.
Additionally, the USDA has up to $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs.
The fund also allows for $16 billion in direct aid to farmers and ranchers that is funded from the CARES Act and $6.5 billion remaining in Credit Commodity Corporation funding. Davis says its a way to help people on both ends of the spectrum of America’s food chain during the COVID-19 crisis.