COVID-19 Aid For Ag Details Announced

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – President Trump yesterday finally released details of the $19 billion dollar in federal coronavirus aid for farmers and ranchers. The program covers a wide variety of crop and meat producers, and promises up to $250,000 in direct payments.

Producers who have suffered a “5%-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities” are eligible for the program.

$16 billion will go directly to producers, while $3 billion will be used to purchase commodities from farmers. The package is funded through $6.5 billion from the CARES Act and $9.5 billion from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Livestock producers have been among the hardest hit. The USDA’s latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry outlook report says federal inspectors were overseeing more than 550 million pounds of beef production per week in late March and only 350 million in early May.

While packing plants are ramping up after closures and slowdowns from the coronavirus, cattle prices – which plummeted at the start of the pandemic – remain low, well below break-even margins for some producers.

USDA researchers predict those pricing issues will continue for quite a while with the outlook report saying “prices will remain low as the supply of market-ready cattle remains above the sector’s ability to process them, and the supply issue is expected to linger through 2021.”

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