Coronavirus payments to farmers near $18 billion

The Trump administration wrote $7.6 billion in coronavirus checks to farmers in the past four weeks, pushing the total for relief payments to nearly $18 billion since the pandemic struck in the spring. The payments account for half of the record-large federal supports being paid to agriculture …

Perdue violated rules against politicking on the job, says ethics agency

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated a 1939 law against politicking on the job when he urged the re-election of President Trump at a produce packing house in North Carolina on Aug. 24 and must reimburse the government "for the costs associated with his political activity," said the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on Thursday.

Perdue unwilling to use SNAP to fullest during pandemic, says think tank

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue shows more enthusiasm for cutting SNAP enrollment than in making full use of food stamps to alleviate hunger during the pandemic, said the think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) on Thursday. SNAP enrollment has rocketed to 43 million, the highest level since October 2017, and estimates of food insecurity have tripled because of the coronavirus.

In abrupt reversal, USDA extends summer school food waivers

In a sudden reversal, the Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it would extend school meal waivers through Dec. 30—less than a week after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had said the programs would lapse by Sept. 30. The shift came amid an outcry from advocates and lawmakers from both parties, who argued that Perdue’s refusal to extend key waivers and flexibilities around free summer meals would worsen record levels of child hunger. (No paywall)

Perdue violated anti-politicking law, says ethics complaint

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue solicited votes for President Trump in violation of the 1939 federal law that bars partisan activity by federal officials while on the job, said a complaint filed by a good-government group. The complaint cites Perdue's comments at a produce packing shed in North Carolina, where Trump announced a $1-billion extension of the administration's food-box giveaway program.

Lax rules, little accountability in Trump food-box giveaway, say House Democrats

The Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway program, the Trump administration’s response to hunger during the coronavirus pandemic, went into operation without a formula to assure aid was distributed fairly across the country, said the USDA official overseeing the program on Tuesday. While …

Food box misses goal of 40 million deliveries

The Farmers to Families Food Box program, the $3 billion face of the Trump administration's response to US food insecurity during the pandemic, delivered 25 million boxes of food to nonprofit organization such as food banks as of Monday, said the USDA. (No paywall)

There are holes in USDA’s Food Box, say congressional Democrats

When Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue talks about hunger relief during the pandemic, he puts the spotlight on the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program. He took part in three Food Box events last week and is scheduled to speak at one in Lakeland, Florida, on Monday. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House and Senate question if the donation program is a fair and efficient way to help families. (No paywall)

Record USDA support flowing, but farmers say more federal assistance will be needed

With signup underway for $16 billion in coronavirus payments, farmers overwhelmingly say more federal aid to agriculture is needed this year, according to a Purdue University poll released on Tuesday. Farm spending is headed for a record this year and could exceed $30 billion from an amalgam of …

Perdue joins coronavirus task force

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, chosen by President Trump to oversee the reopening of meat plants, is now a member of the White House coronavirus task force, "which is focused on getting Americans back to work and allowing businesses to reopen," said the White House. The appointment was announced a few hours after Perdue and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump visited a produce warehouse in the Washington suburbs that is part of the Farmers to Families Food Box on Friday.(No paywall)