USDA Announces Food Worker Assistance Program

On April 17, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), a program which “will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.” The $19 billion program is designed to protect the supply chain for food production.

The program has two main prongs. First, $16 billion in direct support to farmers will be distributed “based on actual losses.” USDA will also purchase $3 billion in produce, dairy, and meat from businesses affected by major closures of hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. Distributors partnering with USDA will then send these items to food banks, faith-based organizations, and others in need. These purchases come in addition to $850 designated by prior COVID-19 relief legislation specifically for food purchases.

The relief effort comes about a month into the pandemic which has shuttered restaurants and other food-purchasing businesses nationwide.

“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” Secretary Perdue said in a statement. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”

While the food supply chain has received much direct aid from the federal government, cannabis-related businesses have not. A bill was recently introduced into the House of Representatives that would explicitly include cannabis-related businesses, which have largely been deemed essential in states where cannabis has been legalized, in COVID-19 relief funding eligibility requirements.