Pandemic rages, but USDA’s food box program may end in eight weeks

As it announced contracts for up to $1.47 billion to carry the Farmers to Families Food Box initiative through July and August, the USDA also said the program could end on Sept. 1, or soon afterward, as funding for the food giveaway program runs out. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has highlighted the Food Box as a boon to hungry Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, while the White House opposed a temporary expansion of food-stamp benefits.(No paywall)

Two major meat processors part of USDA’s $1.2-billion Food Box program

Two of the largest meat processors in the country, Tyson Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions, are among roughly 200 "approved suppliers" for a USDA initiative to buy surplus fresh produce, dairy products and pre-cooked chicken and pork for distribution to needy Americans. The USDA said it approved $1.2 billion in contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box program but did not list individual awards.(No paywall)

Coronavirus question: Spend more on food aid or farm aid?

Farmers and ranchers will need billions of dollars in coronavirus aid beyond the $16 billion in cash that USDA plans to disburse by June, 28 senators said in a letter to President Trump. At the same time, a band of university economists said USDA aid is weighted 4-to-1 toward producers and that the agency "should arguably show an equivalent amount of creativity to help the broader spectrum of struggling Americans with food needs."(No paywall)

Hunger relief will come in the form of the ‘harvest box’

The government will spend $300 million a month to buy fresh produce, dairy and meat products that will be packaged into a box for food banks and other charities to give to hungry Americans, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Some $3 billion will be spent on purchases of surplus foods for donation in an initiative that resembles the "America's Harvest Box" idea promoted by Perdue for delivering a portion of SNAP benefits.(No paywall)

USDA to buy as much excess milk and meat as possible, says Perdue

Besides billions of dollars in cash payments to farmers, coronavirus relief will include purchases of "as much" milk and meat as possible for hunger relief, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. President Trump says at least $16 billion will be spent on aid to agriculture. (No paywall)

As trade war lengthens, Trump orders another bailout for farmers

For the second time in 14 months, President Trump announced a multibillion-dollar government intervention to prop up the farm sector, a prominent casualty of the Sino-U.S. trade war. The first bailout, announced in April 2018, has sent around $8.3 billion in cash to growers so far; the new rescue will buy "agricultural products from our Great Farmers, in larger amounts than China ever did, and ship it to poor & starving countries in the form of humanitarian assistance," the president said on social media.

Senate panel ignores White House on foreign food aid

The Food for Peace program, created during the Cold War to alleviate hunger overseas, would see $1.7 billion in funding in the new fiscal year, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee decided on Tuesday, ignoring a White House proposal to mothball the program.

Trump names Keenum to lead food security panel

The president of Mississippi State University, Mark Keenum, is President Trump's choice to become chairman of a USAID advisory group, the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, said the White House. Keenum was the No. 3 Agriculture Department official during the George W. Bush era, overseeing U.S. farm subsidies, ag exports and foreign food aid before becoming university president in his home state in 2009.

Half a million USDA boxes of food for Puerto Rico

Officials from USDA and Puerto Rico agreed on a household distribution program that will provide about 500,000 boxes, each holding from 9-16 pounds of U.S.-grown food, "directly to families affected by Hurricane Maria." The distribution, announced over the weekend, was approved through Oct. 27.