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President Trump on Tuesday announced a $19 billion coronavirus food assistance program to support farmers and ranchers and “maintain the health of the food supply chain” in the United States amid the coronavirus crisis.
"The farmers and ranchers are incredible people," Trump said during comments at the Whtie House. "I’m proud to stand right by their side in this hour of need."
The president said the new program would provide $16 billion “directly” to farmers and ranchers.
“No other president has done this,” Trump said. “I’ll tell ya—you can go back to Abraham Lincoln. There’s no president who has treated the farmers like Trump. Who wouldn’t be with Trump?”
He added: “It’s an honor to do it, actually. These are great, great people.”
“As part of this program, $16 billion in direct payments will be made to farmers and ranchers directly,” Trump said, noting that the program is “authorized by the CARES Act”—the coronavirus stimulus package which totaled more than $2 trillion and passed in March.
The president said the payments would “compensate farmers” for losses they have sustained due to COVID-19. The administration is offering the funds to farmers and ranchers producing corn, cotton, soybeans, specialty crops, beef, dairy, pork and more.
The president said that farmers and ranchers can begin signing up for the billions of dollars in assistance by May 26.
“You need to sign up to pick it up, to get the money,” Trump said. “And we’ll start issuing payments within one week of receiving your application.”
The president said that the $16 billion would go directly to farmers, and that the remaining $3 billion in the $19 billion program is being used to purchase products for food lines.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump announced the USDA “Family Food Box."
As part of the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program announced last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture purchased and distributed up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need.
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the USDA partnered with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels and other foodservice entities to purchase fresh produce, dairy and meat.
Perdue, on Tuesday, called the program "a lifeline" for families who need food, and for food banks.
"The food supply chain that begins with these producers…ending up on the family tables is a real noble profession," Perdue said. "I'm honored to be a part of it and I'm particularly honored, President Trump, that you understand, in your heart, how valuable our agriculture is."
Ivanka Trump, who worked with Perdue on the program, called it "an amazing initiative," which she said was created because "the president saw that there were those in need."
She said that the boxes weigh between 20 and 25 pounds and are "incredibly virtuous." She said the program "helps small distributors and small farmers."
"These boxes themselves will also be going to a mission here in D.C., and we hope that these boxes will play a big role in feeding those who need it across the country," Ivanka Trump said. "We think that it will be extraordinarily successful for our small farmers and of course those in need."