Tag Archives: Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 4, 2020 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today applauded the announcement that agricultural producers, for the first time, are now eligible for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs.

 

“America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers need the same help that other American businesses need during this unprecedented time,” said Secretary Perdue. “This significant new authority signed by President Trump will make a tremendous difference for America’s agricultural community.”

 

SBA’s EIDL portal has been closed since April 15. However, the Agency is able to reopen the portal today, in a limited capacity, as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, which was signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional critical funding for farmers and ranchers affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 

In order to help facilitate this important change to EIDL Loan and EIDL Advance assistance eligibility, SBA is re-opening the Loan and Advance application portal to agricultural enterprises only. For agricultural producers that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted prior to April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.

 

For more information, please visit: www.sba.gov/Disaster.

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says meatpacking plants that have been slowed or shut down due to coronavirus will open again in days, not weeks. Slaughterhouse employees are set to receive additional protective gear and will have access to COVID-19 testing “virtually immediately.”

The Hill Dot Com says Perdue expects the shortfall in meat production is likely as high as 30 percent but will drop to between 10 and 15 percent within 10 days. However, Perdue does say that production likely won’t return to the pre-pandemic pace as new safety procedures are put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus. “There will be some less production, some inefficiency based on line speeds, some employees that will not be able to come back to work,” Perdue says. “We want to assure the workers and their community of their safety.”

As the virus continued to spread across the country, more than a dozen meat processing plants have been temporarily shut down due to outbreaks. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union reported at least 6,500 workers who had directly been affected by the coronavirus, as well as 20 deaths at plants across the country. The USDA will require processors to submit plans to operate packing facilities safely and review those measures with local officials.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Friday evening. The $19 billion relief program will provide support to farmers and ranchers, and the food supply chain, to ensure “every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.” CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the CARES Act, among other funding streams.

The program includes $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for farmers and ranchers. The program will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year. USDA will also partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of food service businesses, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat.

USDA will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The relief package does not include biofuels, a sector facing plant shutdowns amid low fuel demand.

Further details regarding eligibility, rates and other implementation will be released at a later date by USDA.

Agriculture Groups Respond:

The American Farm Bureau Federation applauds the economic aid package. AFBF Federation President Zippy Duvall says the program will “help keep food on Americans’ tables by providing a lifeline to farm families that were already hit by trade wars and severe weather.”

The National Farmers Union says the relief cannot come soon enough. NFU President Rob Larew recently urged Secretary Perdue in a letter to “swiftly and efficiently implement assistance and distribute resources.” Larew expressed appreciation for the agency’s efforts and reiterated the importance of dividing aid fairly and establishing longer-term solutions to market challenges.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Marty Smith welcomed the aid package, saying cattle producers “desperately need help during this national emergency.” A study commissioned by NCBA estimated that cow-calf producers stand to lose $8.1 billion as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, while the stocker/backgrounder sector losses will reach $2.5 billion and feedlot losses will total $3.0 billions a result of COVID-19.

And, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, says, “Delivering this much needed relief expediently and efficiently will help producers manage their operations, as well as put food on the tables of folks who need it most.”

However, for pork producers, the aid may not be enough. National Pork Producers Council President Howard “A.V.” Roth says, “We fear the lifeline so desperately needed will fall short of what is truly needed.” While the direct payments to hog farmers will offset some losses for some farmers, Roth says “they are not sufficient to sustain the varied market participants.”