USDA is spending $470m on food to support farmers *and* food banks

We’re betting the government’s shopping list looks preeeeetty different to yours

24w ago

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Right now we’re in this really difficult situation where people are in dire need of food because of financial hardship — while at the same time farmers have surplus food because restaurants and businesses are effectively closed. Demand for food banks is at an all-time high, and simultaneously farmers are being forced to let crops rot.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recognised the two problems and throughout the outbreak has rolled out a series of measures to help tackle them.

Under its ‘Section 32’ funding, the USDA is permitted to buy domestic food directly from producers for its Food and Nutrition Service assistance programs, which in turn supply food banks. It’s an attempt to solve both issues.

This week, the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the department will be spending $470 million — and revealed exactly how they’re spending it, as Food and Wine reports.

So what’s on the government’s shopping list? Among the items, the USDA is buying:

--$30 million of catfish

--$30 million of chicken

--$20 million of Alaskan pollock

--$5 million of pears

--$35 million of strawberries

--$10 million of sweet potatoes

--$25 million of orange juice

--$10 million of tart cherries

If you’re curious as to why the USDA’s shopping list is kinda unusual, they have this explanation: “Purchases are determined by industry requests, market analysis and food bank needs".

It added that these foods are part of a larger plan “to purchase 100 percent American-grown and produced agricultural products totaling $4.89 billion for the remainder of this fiscal year in support of American agriculture and people in need.”

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

Frustratingly however, the USDA has said that food deliveries are not beginning until July, so the food banks have to wait.

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