Farm state GOP senators speak favorably of more food assistance funds

Four Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee have spoken favorably in the past few days of additional funding for public nutrition programs during the pandemic, possibly including an increase in SNAP benefits. (No paywall)

Glitches in aid program obscure need for more relief during pandemic, say ag leaders

Farm groups are arguing for a massive new round of cash for agriculture in the coronavirus relief bill being negotiated by Congress and the White House, even though billions of dollars in an ongoing USDA aid program may go unclaimed. There's no contradiction in the request, said the two largest U.S. farm groups on Monday. (No paywall)

Million-dollar payments from USDA’s coronavirus fund

A hog producer, Titan Swine, got the largest single payment during the first month of the USDA's coronavirus relief program — $1.4 million — and it received two additional checks, totaling $1.1 million, on the same day, reported The Counter on Thursday. (No paywall)

Surge in grocery prices will bring a 5 percent increase in SNAP benefits

Food stamp benefits will rise by 5.3 percent in October, to a maximum of $680 per month for a family of four in the continental United States, said the USDA Food and Nutrition Service on Wednesday. The cost-of-living adjustment was announced even as anti-hunger groups are calling for a temporary 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits during the pandemic.

Pace of coronavirus payments to farmers slows, reasons unclear

When its coronavirus relief program went into operation, the USDA was sending $1 billion a week to farmers and ranchers. A relatively small $400 million was paid last week and $300 million in the week before that, a pace so slow that there are questions whether the $16 billion earmarked for …

Perdue gets $20 billion blank check for ag aid in GOP coronavirus plan

Senate Republicans proposed $20 billion in additional aid to agriculture in their new coronavirus package on Monday, leaving it to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to allot the money. At the same time, Republicans decided against an increase in food stamp benefits, a goal of House Democrats. The proposed increase in farm aid came as the USDA released figures showing that it has only spent a little more than 40 percent of the $16 billion that was earmarked for farmers and ranchers in the CARES act. (No paywall)

School lunch count plummeted as schools closed in pandemic

Participation in the school lunch program nosedived 28 percent during the first months of the pandemic despite breakneck efforts across the nation to provide an alternative to meals in the cafeteria, said USDA data. An anti-hunger group said extension of the so-called P-EBT program and an increase in SNAP benefits were needed to treat "this child hunger crisis."

Food-box giveaway to run through Oct. 31, says USDA

The Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway program, the Trump administration's response to hunger during the coronavirus pandemic, will run through Oct. 31 to use up the last of its $3 billion in funds, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

White House cites USDA ‘poison pills’ in threat to veto $260 billion spending bill

The White House listed five dozen objections to parts of a $260 billion government funding bill, including bans on implementing two Trump regulations to narrow SNAP eligibility, on Thursday, and threatened a presidential veto. As the House debated the appropriations bill, Republican senators worked on coronavirus relief legislation expected to include billions of dollars of new agricultural assistance.

Federal payments soften farm financial stress

Agricultural credit conditions remain weak, but government payments "appear likely to limit the severity of financial stress among farm borrowers in the coming months," said the Federal Reserve in a quarterly report on Thursday. (No paywall)