Millions of Pounds of Food Rotted in Fields While Food-bank Demand Soared
How the USDA failed
Tens of millions of pounds of American-grown produce is rotting in fields as food banks across the country scramble to meet a massive surge in demand, a two-pronged disaster that has deprived farmers of billions of dollars in revenue while millions of newly jobless Americans struggle to feed their families.
While other federal agencies quickly adapted their programs to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) took more than a month to make its first significant move to buy up surplus fruits and vegetables — despite repeated entreaties.
“It’s frustrating,” said Nikki Fried, commissioner of agriculture in Florida. Fried, who is a Democrat, and much of the Florida congressional delegation asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue nearly a month ago to use his broad authority and funding to get more Florida farmers plugged into federal food purchasing and distribution programs as the food service market collapsed. “Unfortunately, USDA didn’t move until [last week].”
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