COVID-19 Surplus Food To Be Purchased By USDA
By David Sparks with AgInfoNetork of the West
As part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program the USDA is fulfilling a request by the American Farm Bureau Federation and in doing so is helping to Feeding America.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes $3 billion of commodity purchases for food banks. Farm Bureau Economist Megan Nelson says the purchases are part of the aid package to help farmers and consumers.
“This is a really great step in the right direction. This program will definitely help get excess food into food banks, which is going to help out our farmers and help food banks facing huge increases in demands. And, it’s something that American Farm Bureau and Feeding America have partnered to ask USDA to do so. So, we’re very happy that this program is getting legs under it and getting moving,” said Nelson.
The program includes fresh produce, dairy and meat. Nelson says USDA will partner with regional distributors to purchase the commodities:
“The procurement process will follow a more streamlined version of the Commodity Assistance program that’s been in place at USDA for some time now and it’s estimating that it’s going to try to be buying about $100 million per month of each product line item,” said Nelson.
The COVID-19 pandemic has consumers purchasing more food for use at home, than away from home. Through the program, food distributors will provide pre-approved boxes of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks to keep up with demand.
“This is something that is going to be really helping our farmers to get a streamline supply chain to get products that they are producing in abundance, and get it where it’s needed most and where the demand is. And, that’s why these pre-approved boxes of some of the most perishable foods is really going to help out our farmers,” concluded Nelson.