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Now that’s a serious shopping list.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is buying $470 million worth of meat, dairy, produce and seafood from American farmers and donating it to food banks this summer.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, millions of Americans are experiencing food insecurities, while farmers struggle with surplus as restaurants and other food service entities remain closed. To help alleviate both concerns, the federal department announced on Monday that it will be buying nearly half a million dollars in Section 32 food purchases in the months ahead.
“The U.S. food industry is experiencing high inventories due to a decrease in demand as foodservice establishments, restaurants and schools have closed and prices producers typically receive have declined,” the USDA explained in a statement. “Meanwhile, food banks, food pantries and other organizations supporting communities across the country have experienced an increase in demand.”
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will begin issuing solicitations in June for the $470 million purchase and tentatively begin delivering to communities in need in July — and it’s quite the shopping list.
The USDA plans to purchase $5 million worth of asparagus, $30 million of catfish, $30 million of chicken, $120 million of dairy products, $20 million of Atlantic fish like Haddock, Pollock, and Redfish, $25 million of orange juice, $5 million of pears, $20 million of Alaskan Pollock, $30 million of pork, $50 million of potatoes, $5 million of prunes; $15 million of raisins, $35 million of strawberries, $10 million of sweet potatoes, $20 million of tart cherries and $50 million of turkey products. This transaction hopes to offset volatile market conditions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and keep food on the table for those who need it.
“President Trump has authorized USDA to support our farmers affected by this national emergency and this action to purchase food and deliver to those in need further demonstrates his unwavering support for the American people during these unprecedented times,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said of the news. “America’s farmers and ranchers have experienced a dislocated supply chain caused by the Coronavirus. USDA is in the unique position to purchase these foods and deliver them to the hungry Americans who need it most.”
Beyond the upcoming Section 32 purchases, the USDA plans to use other available funds to buy $4.89 billion worth of “100 percent American-grown and produced agricultural products” through the rest of the fiscal year, to help further support American agriculture and families in need.