Farmers have received $4.8 billion in long-promised payments of $20 an acre on crops that range from corn, soybeans, and wheat to sorghum and sugar beets, said USDA data on Monday. It was the largest disbursement of coronavirus relief funds since the Biden administration took office.
To reduce food waste and help feed hungry Americans, the USDA will spend an estimated $400 million to reimburse dairy organizations for donating products to food banks, said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Jewel Bronaugh on Wednesday. The donation program was the second component of pandemic relief to dairy farmers that would total $2 billion this year.
Global food company Danone has given a year's notice to 79 organic dairy farms in the Northeast that it will stop buying their milk on Aug. 31, 2022. The decision is just the latest squeeze on organic dairy producers, who face rising costs and pressures to consolidate.
In an expansion of its pandemic portfolio, the Biden administration said it would pay an estimated $350 million to dairy farmers to offset lower milk prices caused by market abnormalities during the second half of 2020. The payments will benefit farms with smaller herds the most.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced up to $200 million in pandemic relief for loggers and timber haulers on Tuesday and said "there is more to come" for agriculture in the weeks ahead. Aid will include $700 million for biofuel producers and $980 million in dairy supports.
Trade ministers from Canada, Mexico and the United States are scheduled to confer digitally on Monday and Tuesday in the first meeting of the USMCA's Fair Trade Commission, with dairy expected to be the hot topic. U.S. dairy groups called on Sunday for the Biden administration to escalate an ongoing complaint against Canadian dairy quotas unless this week's meeting produces results.
Row crop farmers would see payments of $20 an acre and livestock producers would be compensated for animals culled during the pandemic under the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that was unexpectedly challenged by President Trump on Tuesday, a day after Congress passed it. The $13 billion bill includes a $400 million dairy donation program, aid to contract poultry growers, and assistance for textile mills and, potentially, ethanol refineries.
The Trump administration said it was challenging Canadian quotas on dairy imports as unfair to U.S. milk producers. The challenge, announced on Wednesday, was the first under the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.
Farmers and ranchers will begin signing up for $16 billion in coronavirus payments by the end of May if all goes according to plan, said a USDA spokesperson on Thursday. In that case, the payments would follow the USDA’s awarding of contracts for another part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the Farmers to Families Food Box. (No paywall)