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USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to help Kansas, Missouri farmers and ranchers

Farms encountering guest worker shortage amid new coronavirus restrictions
Posted at 5:24 PM, Apr 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 20:06:11-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Farmers and ranchers in both Kansas and Missouri will get a little relief as the USDA announced $19 billion relief package on Friday.

"I think Americans now know that more than ever the wholesome food that our families depend upon starts with America’s farmers and ranchers,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

This program gives $16 million in direct support to agriculture producers based on actual losses where price and market supply chains have been impacted.

The USDA will also partner with local distributors whose workforce has been impacted by the closure of food service companies to purchase $3 billion worth of fresh produce, dairy and meat.

The Missouri Farm Bureau thinks this will provide some much needed relief.

"We’ve had a tremendous shock to the market. We’ve seen all prices drop by 50-percent or half of what they were a couple months ago: cattle prices, 30-40 percent, corn prices 20-percent drop, soy beans 10-20 percent,” said Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The drop in prices leaves family farms more cash-strapped.

"They are rapidly, rapidly losing equity and will be hard pressed, many of them, to survive so this thing is really, really serious,” added Hurst.

It’s an industry used to hard times, but it has never seen anything like this.

"That’s what makes it unique, just every sector of agriculture suffering,” Hurst said. "Praying that we get on top of this thing and kind of resume normal life sometime soon.”

With people driving less, another crop impacted is corn in the ethanol market.

The USDA said it expanded waived in all 50 states and territories to make sure kids and families who need food can get it during this national emergency.

It’s unclear when this program will start or how much money Kansas and Missouri will get out of this program.