ERS: Nearly $58 billion to farmers in pandemic year

When crop insurance indemnities and unemployment benefits are counted, the government sent $57.7 billion to farm operations and farm households in 2020, while the pandemic sent the U.S. economy into recession, said a working paper by USDA economists. It was the highest estimate yet of federal assistance to farmers last year and the most inclusive.

More pandemic aid on tap for agriculture, says Vilsack

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.

USDA aid for producers who culled pigs and poultry during pandemic

Producers who were forced to destroy pigs, chickens, and turkeys last year due to the pandemic are eligible for federal compensation ranging from 32 cents per chick to $258.57 for a heavyweight hog, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. The new Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program is the latest in coronavirus relief programs that have paid $24.3 billion to farmers since May 2020.

Ongoing delays in P-EBT slow rollout of Biden’s summer food programs

More than two months since the Biden administration announced the most ambitious summer food program in U.S. history, the USDA has approved benefits distribution plans for just 18 states — even with school out of session across the country.

USDA study finds SNAP participants have a hard time eating a healthy diet

Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, face significant hurdles in putting nutritious food on the table each month, according to a USDA study released yesterday. (No paywall)

Food insecurity eases, but remains stubbornly high for Black and Latino households

Food insufficiency remains above pre-pandemic levels for all Americans, but among Black and Latino households the problem is particularly acute, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Report: Pandemic waivers helped boost WIC enrollment

Pandemic-era tweaks to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children helped boost participation in the program, commonly known as WIC, after years of declining enrollment, according to a report released yesterday by the Food Research & Action Center.

Senators propose loan forgiveness for small farmers

The Agriculture Department would offer small farmers one-time loan forgiveness of up to $250,000 under legislation announced by five Democratic senators on Thursday. Lead sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she would try to include debt relief in the upcoming infrastructure bill "to make certain our farmers are not left behind."

USDA announces major expansion of emergency food networks

The USDA announced on Friday that it will invest up to $1 billion to expand emergency food networks, bolstering the ability of food banks and local organizations to serve in-need communities. 

SNAP enrollment running 5 million above pre-pandemic levels

Some 42 million people received food stamps according to the latest count by the government, roughly 5 million people, or 14 percent, more than before the pandemic took hold in March 2020. Congress temporarily increased benefits 15 percent in response to the pandemic, a boost that is set to expire Sept. 30.