Perdue: More aid money needed, hasn’t talked to Trump about beef imports
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in radio interview that the Trump administration does not believe the current $19 billion budget for aiding farmers who have suffered losses due to the coronavirus pandemic is adequate, and that he hopes USDA will get more resources later.
Perdue told the Red River Farm Network “We don’t believe this amount of money is adequate, frankly.”
Perdue said he had chosen to use the remaining $6 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation authority plus the $9.5 billion that Congress provided to make payments to farmers. (USDA is also spending money to buy fruits and vegetables, dairy products and pre-cooked pork and chicken to distribute through food banks, bringing the total spending to $19 billion.)
“Hopefully we will have more resources later on,” Perdue said.
He noted that Congress has increased the borrowing authority for the CCC by $14 billion but that money is not available until the end of June. Perdue did not say whether he plans to use the increased CCC authority for COVID-19-related relief or whether he hopes Congress will provide additional funds.
Asked about President Donald Trump’s statements last week that perhaps trade deals involving beef imports should be terminated, Perdue said he had not had a chance to talk to Trump about that issue, because the question was asked by a reporter in a public setting.
Perdue said it is important the United States be a reliable supplier of food products and also a reliable “agreer” to trade agreements.
The “scale” of imports of protein products into the United States is “minimal,” Perdue said. But he added that in light of the problems that have occurred in meat processing, meat producers may want to consider handling the processing of meat on a “co-op” basis.
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