The CARES Act, a $2 trillion federal stimulus bill, was signed into law March 27 to aid American businesses and citizens who have been severely affected by COVID-19. A $9.5 billion allocation was set aside for American farmers, and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried is asking the USDA to act immediately in getting them their distribution.
Fried sent a letter this week to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging the USDA to act as quickly as possible, especially on a Section 32 purchase, which gives USDA the authority to buy surplus crops and distribute them to child nutrition programs and food banks.
“I applaud our farmers and producers who have shown unbelievable resilience as they continue to work day in and day out to feed our communities during this trying time,” Fried said in the letter. “Now, we must make sure our farmers, who are also struggling in the current market even as they continue to provide for others, are not left behind and food is not left to waste.”
FFVA is working closely with FDACS and other organizations to press USDA to aid growers in three areas:
• An expedited Section 32 purchase
• Direct payment to growers based on losses
• A request for USDA to cover losses when PACA claims are filed and the buyer is no longer in business