U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details this week of $470 million in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, in addition to purchases previously announced, which will enable USDA to purchase surplus food for distribution to communities nationwide.
The $470 million includes $120 million in produce.
According to a May 4 release from the USDA, “These Section 32 purchases will provide additional support for producers and Americans in need, in response to changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency.” President Trump, Secretary Perdue said, “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. 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.”
Through the multi-faceted emergency response, the Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase “a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products.” The release said that purchases “are determined by industry requests, market analysis and food bank needs…” and “AMS will begin issuing solicitations in June and intends to begin deliveries in July. Details on how vendors may participate are available on the Selling Food to USDA page on the AMS website. Solicitations will be posted to the website once available. Industry requests for future purchases using Section 32 funds, including potential plans for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020, will be assessed on an ongoing basis.”
Moreover, “On an ongoing basis AMS purchases a variety of domestically produced and processed agricultural products as authorized by Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935. These “USDA Foods” are provided to USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) nutrition assistance programs, including food banks that operate The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and are a vital component of the nation’s food safety net.”
And, the release said, “In addition to Section 32 purchases, USDA will use other available funds to purchase food in support of American agriculture and families on an ongoing basis and in response to recent disruptions in the food-supply chains. 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. Meanwhile, food banks, food pantries and other organizations supporting communities across the country have experienced an increase in demand.
Using these available funds, USDA plans to purchase 100 percent American-grown and produced agricultural products totaling $4.89 billion for the remainder of this fiscal year in support of American agriculture and people in need.”
The response includes the Farmers to Families Food Box Program that will purchase and distribute $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products [see separate story on Farmers to Families Food Box in this week’s OnionBusiness]. In this program, “USDA is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels and other food service entities, to purchase and distribute $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products. The purchases will be distributed through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.” The release added that “AMS will procure an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products and $100 million per month in meat products to provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy and meat products to food banks and other non-profits serving Americans in need.”
An additional $850 million in release will be provided through TEFAP, the release said. “On an ongoing basis, USDA supports low-income families through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides emergency food assistance to states. USDA purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality foods using Section 32 and other funds and makes those foods available for distribution to states to operate TEFAP. USDA plans to utilize an additional $400 million provided by the FFCRA and $450 million provided by the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act to make additional purchases for TEFAP program recipients. The commodities and products procured for this program will be determined by food bank need and product availability.”
And through the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, AMS is “continuing its plans to purchase $1.4 billion in agricultural products produced by U.S. farmers, ranchers and producers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.” The release said, “A total of $573.6 million remains for these purchases this fiscal year. These food purchases are provided to states for distribution to the network of food banks and food pantries that participate in TEFAP.”