USDA announces final round of food box purchases
The program, first announced April 19, authorized USDA to purchase $3 billion in agricultural products from farmers and food distributors who experienced losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
USDA purchased more than $947 million in produce, dairy and meat between May 15 and June 30 in the program’s first round. More than $1.47 billion in purchases are anticipated in the second round, which ends Aug. 31.
With between $500 million and $700 million remaining, USDA said it plans to use the balance to purchase more combination boxes in the program’s final round beginning Sept. 1.
“This third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases is a testament to the great work done by vendors in support of American agriculture and the American people,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“It is also a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended—supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most. It’s a real trifecta,” Perdue said.
Through the program’s first two rounds, over 49 million food boxes have been delivered to food banks, community organizations and other nonprofits helping those experiencing food insecurity.
While participation from farmers has been limited—only 214 contracts have been granted through the program’s first two rounds—Virginia growers could still benefit from the final round of USDA purchases.
“With up to $700 million remaining for the final round, dairy products and precooked meats, along with apples, potatoes and other produce from Virginia, could make their way into food boxes this round,” explained Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
“Virginia’s farmers stand to directly benefit by selling their products to food distributors or USDA, and indirectly from improved price stability and the possibility of increased prices in the dairy, meat and produce sectors.”
Additional information on the program’s final round will soon be available at usda.gov/farmers-to-families, along with educational materials for farmers interested in participating.