Washington, April 10 (IANS) US President Donald Trump said that he has directed his Agriculture Secretary to “expedite help” to American farmers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I expect Secretary (Sonny) Purdue to use all of the funds and authorities at his disposal to make sure that our food supply is stable, strong, and safe,” Trump tweeted on Thursday night, adding that he wanted to “expedite help to our farmers, especially to the smaller farmers who are hurting right now”, reports Xinhua news agency.
In response, Perdue tweeted that his department “is using all financial resources we have been given to develop a program that will include direct payments to farmers & ranchers hurt by COVID-19 & other procurement methods to help solidify the supply chain from producers to consumers”.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ripple across the country, crop and livestock prices have fallen to levels that threaten the livelihoods of many US farmers and ranchers, according to recent analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
Last month, 48 agriculture groups, including the AFBF, had called on Congress to expand the US Department of Agriculture’s borrowing authority to assist farmers and ranchers facing serious cash flow challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Millions of producers will need help with cash flow given the rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closures of ethanol processing plants, the effective elimination of direct-to-consumer sales and decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand,” the groups wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.
As of Friday, the US has recorded 466,299 coronavirus cases, the highest in the world, and 16,686 deaths.