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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

Go deeper

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.

Mike Lindell moves the goalposts on a run for Minnesota governor

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House before entering on Jan. 15. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.

What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.

Wall Street pencils in virus variants as latest economic risk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is pinning its bets of an economic rebound this year on mass vaccinations and a virus brought under control, but new coronavirus strains threaten that sunny outlook, a number of firms are warning.

Why it matters: None downgraded growth forecasts because of the variants, but they’re acknowledging there’s a new asterisk to the anticipated economic recovery.