USDA announces $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers

BISMARCK N.D. - President Trump announced details regarding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Tuesday.

The program offers $19 billion in federal food assistance, with 16 billion of those dollars as direct payments to qualifying farmers and ranchers.

While the remainder of the program's funding will be spent on a Farmers to Families initiative, buying agricultural products and distributing them to food banks in need.

Although North Dakota has a large agricultural market, the state is still experiencing meat shortages.

Agriculture leaders say the state is still reliant on others even though our production is high.

"If you look at where some of the large processing facilities exist, they exist there for a couple reasons: one is population centers or they're transportation hubs,” said ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

But in order to maintain food supply production, the direct payments to farmers and ranchers are vital and would extend further than the previous Market Facilitation Program.

"It also includes corn, it includes canola. And these are crops very important to North Dakota. And crops in previous MFP programs haven't been treated so well,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

However, there are some commodities not included in the program.

Sen. Cramer continued saying he'll "work with USDA to make sure the pulse crop producers not explicitly included receive the assistance they need."

USDA leaders say ineligible crops could become eligible in the future.

Farmers and ranchers who meet the eligibility requirements can sign up for the payments starting on March 26 and into August.

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