Apr 17, 2020 - Health

USDA announces $19 billion food assistance program

Trump and Sonny Perdue stand next to each other in this image

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and President Trump at the White House on April 17. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to spend $16 billion on direct payments to farmers, ranchers and producers "who experience unprecedented losses" during the coronavirus pandemic, Secretary Sonny Perdue said at Friday's White House press briefing.

What's happening: There's been an upsurge in demand for food banks across the country in the face of mass unemployment and school closures. Meanwhile, U.S. farmers and food companies have decreased production in response to dwindling demand, as restaurants and businesses close.

Details: The USDA also plans to purchase $3 billion worth of fresh produce, dairy and meat products to distribute to "Americans in need, food banks networks, as well as other community and faith-based organizations," Purdue noted on Friday.

What's next: "Based on industry estimates of damage, Mr. President, it is becoming apparent that we'll need the additional CCC funds as we continue to track the economic losses," Perdue said on Friday, after President Trump mentioned the agency would receive $14 billion in July.

Go deeper: How the coronavirus is disrupting the global food supply

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