WASHINGTON D.C. (KIFI/KIDK-A new USDA program will allow the government to purchase $470 million in food during the third quarter of 2020. Agriculture Department Secretary Sonny Perdue designated $50 million to buy surplus potatoes and $120 million in surplus dairy.
“With sit-down restaurants closed as part of the effort to contain the coronavirus, markets for many of the products made from Idaho milk have dried up. At the same time, many more people who have lost their jobs are relying on food banks to keep their families fed and healthy in their time of crisis,” said Rick Naerebout, CEO of Idaho Dairymen’s Association.
Idaho Senator Jim Risch called it “an initial step” in providing assistance to farmers.
“Idaho’s agricultural industry has been severely disrupted by COVID-19, with supply chains shrinking or disappearing altogether. Potatoes and dairy, two of Idaho’s largest agricultural commodities and industries that produce heavily for the food service pipeline, have been hit especially hard as their traditional markets have nearly vanished overnight,” said Senator James Risch.
Idaho Potato Chairman Nick Blanksma called it “hopeful” news. ‘Given the loss of 60% of the market for Idaho Potatoes and potato products in the Food Service sector, this is a good down payment that hopefully begins the process of restoring the normal movement of Idaho potatoes in our nation.”
Second District Congressman Mike Simpson said the Idaho congressional delegation was also working with USDA for additional relief, including payment limitations, risk management, labor, local FSA utilization, cattle, specialty crops, and dairy in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.