Pingree Statement on USDA’s COVID-19 Relief Program for Farmers
Washington, April 18, 2020
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) released the following statement regarding the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), a $19 billion COVID-19 relief package for farmers and ranchers unveiled by the Trump Administration late last night:
“As with all policies of this scale, the devil is in the details. It is concerning that the specifics of this multi-billion dollar relief package impacting millions of lives were released after 9pm on a Friday night during a closed press briefing. These policies will have direct effects on the livelihoods of farmers and food producers in this country, and they deserve to have access to the conversations and decisions being made about them.
“Earlier this month, I joined more than 60 bipartisan members of Congress in urging Secretary Perdue to ensure the local producers who did not benefit from this Administration’s trade bailouts are not left behind again in the wake of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. There are many unknowns about this $19 billion program, which could make or break local and regional food markets. I urge Secretary Perdue to urgently develop an agency-wide outreach strategy to make sure local producers know there is funding on the table and how they may quickly access that aid. Without urgent action, local food economies across the country will take a significant hit and the impact will be felt acutely in states like Maine where we have robust regional agriculture markets.”
Pingree wrote to Speaker Pelosi on March 16, detailing the impact of COVID-19 on local and regional markets for farmers and urging the Speaker to provide emergency disaster payments to farmers selling fresh, local, and minimally processed foods in community markets.
On April 3, Pingree and 67 bipartisan members of Congress wrote to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and urged him to provide swift relief for local food producers whose markets have been affected due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pingree is an organic farmer and a recognized national policy leader on sustainable farming and local agricultural markets. She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.