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Trump administration unveils plans to buy milk and meat to help farmers impacted by COVID-19

16 April 2020

USDA secretary Sonny Perdue announced plans to buy milk and meat from US farmers as part of an initial $15.5 billion effort to help them remain operational through the coronavirus outbreak.

According to reporting from Reuters, the decision comes amid rising pressure from the US farm lobby for government purchases as cattle ranchers and milk producers struggle to get their goods to market due to disruptions from the pandemic. Some producers have been forced to dump and destroy their supplies.

“We want to purchase as much of this milk, or other protein products, hams and pork products, and move them into where they can be utilised in our food banks, or possibly even into international humanitarian aid,” Perdue said in an interview on Fox News.

On 13 April, Reuters and The Cattle Site reported that the Department of Agriculture will spend up to $15.5 billion in the first phase of its plan to shore up the US food supply chain against the shocks of the outbreak. This is the first big push to ensure the coronavirus doesn’t trigger consumer food shortages.

In the US, several beef packing plants have shut down as workers become ill or die from the virus. These closures put increased pressure on grocery supplies.

The knock-on effects of the virus are felt in other agricultural sectors – with dairy farmers dumping milk because they have lost many of their regular buyers in the restaurant industry. Reuters has also reported that labourers and truckers are in short supply to work farms and deliver goods.

Industry groups like the National Pork Producers Council and lawmakers have supported the idea of government purchases of farm goods.

Read more about this story here.


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