Perdue Announces $19 Billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA announced the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to support farmers and ranchers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  •  $16 billion in direct payments for farmers and ranchers, funded using the $9.5 billion emergency program in the CARES Act and $6.5 billion in Credit Commodity Corporation (CCC) funding.
  • $3 billion in purchases of agriculture products, including meat, dairy and produce to support producers and provide food to those in need. USDA will work with local food and regional distributors to deliver food to food banks, as well as community and faith-based organizations to provide food to those in need.

CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities. The program includes two major elements to achieve these goals.

Direct Support to Farmers and Ranchers: The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.

USDA Purchase and Distribution: USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. USDA will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith- based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.
Direct Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers

USDA will provide $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers including:

  • $9.6 billion for the livestock industry
    • $5.1 billion for cattle
    • $2.9 billion for dairy
    • $1.6 billion for hogs
  • $3.9 billion for row crop producers
  • $2.1 billion for specialty crops producers
  • $500 million for other crops

Producers will receive a single payment determined using two calculations:

  • Price losses that occurred January 1-April 15, 2020. Producers will be compensated for 85% of price loss during that period.
  • Second part of the payment will be expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters and will cover 30% of expected losses.

The payment limit is $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. Qualified commodities must have experienced a 5% price decrease between January and April.
USDA is expediting the rule making process for the direct payment program and expects to begin sign-up for the new program in early May and to get payments out to producers by the end of May or early June.

On top of these targeted programs USDA will utilize other available funding sources to purchase and distribute food to those in need.

USDA has up to an additional $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs.

The FFCRA and CARES Act provided an at least $850 million for food bank administrative costs and USDA food purchases, of which a minimum of $600 million will be designated for food purchases. The use of these funds will be determined by food bank need and product availability.

Setting the Record Straight: Animal Ag Has Nothing to Do With COVID-19

By Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Animal Agriculture Alliance

While not surprising, it is infuriating to see various animal rights activist organizations attempt to take advantage of public fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic for their own gain. Activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) are planning to trespass onto farms as part of their “Cancel Animal Ag” campaign claiming that animal agriculture is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic. Karner Blue Capital, an investment firm (where former HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle is now an advisor), is calling attention to what they call “the link between infectious diseases like COVID-19 and the mistreatment of animals in order to highlight the health and economic consequences of these interactions.” Other groups like Mercy for Animals and Farm Sanctuary have written op-eds trying to say modern animal agriculture causes pandemics and public health issues.

The Alliance decided to call on some experts to help us set the record straight. It’s important to not let myths and rumors run rampant, especially at a time when people are looking for any way to keep their families safe. Here are a few questions I asked the experts and what they had to say.

Is there a connection between animal agriculture and the current COVID-19 pandemic?
Dan Thomson, DVM, PhD, chair of the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University, pointed out that “no cow, pig or chicken has been found positive for COVID-19 in the world.”

Randy Singer, DVM, PhD, professor of epidemiology in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota, explained that “COVID-19 is believed to have possibly emerged through wild animals or a live market and then disseminated via a live market.” Singer went on to emphasize that “the past two large coronavirus epidemics (SARS 2004 and MERS 2012) likely originated from animals that have nothing to do with animal agriculture: wild animals for SARS 2004 and camels for MERS 2012.”

Richard Raymond, MD, former Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA, agreed, adding “there has been NO source identified for COVID-19 and there is certainly no link to food animals or animal production. Remember, it started in a multi-million population center in China, nowhere near any large food animal operations.”

Does eating meat (or other animal products) put people at risk of becoming infected?
All three experts solidly said NO. Raymond (the food safety guru!) explained, “eating meat might put one at risk of being infected with E coli or Salmonella if not properly handled and cooked to the right temperature, but COVID-19 is spread via the air, or aerosolized, not from eating anything, be it meat or veggies.”

Thomson pointed out that there it is possible that there is some risk of people spreading the disease by handling products and contaminating the packaging, but that has nothing to do with the product itself. “There is no greater risk for eating meat verses cereals, bread, vegetables, fruit or a candy bar,” Thomson said.

Does modern animal agriculture (for example, large scale farms) pose a greater risk for infectious disease outbreaks?
Despite the activists’ claims, the experts say this is not the case. “The modern housing used in animal agriculture actually protects the animals from infectious diseases that spread rapidly via wildlife spread, such as the movement of avian influenza by wild birds,” Singer said. “The high level of biosecurity used by modern animal agriculture has resulted in a greatly DECREASED risk of disease spread.”

Thomson added, “modern agriculture allows us to monitor animal health daily and quickly mitigate animal health issues.”

I hope this information is helpful in debunking the myths being spread by activist groups who just want to undermine public trust in animal agriculture. The experts all wanted to reassure the public that this is not something they should be afraid of. Thomson summed it up well and I’ll let him have the last word: “The USDA, FSIS and FDA are constantly monitoring the food supply chains to make sure we have safe, wholesome and nutritious food. We are proud of our farmers, ranchers and veterinarians on the frontline providing care and well-being for our animals.”

Why Are There Still Limits On Dairy Products?

Jim Dickrell

The reason for the continued limits is primarily logistical, says Wisconsin Agriculture Interim Secretary Randy Romanski.

  1. Processing and storage capacity. Dairy processing plants can only produce a certain amount of product based on their plant layout and production lines, even if they run 24/7. Bottlenecks can be created if there are backups due to a reduced work force because of illness or line capacity limits.
  2. Availability of trucks. The number of trucks and truck drivers is finite, but there is an increase demand for products. Again, there can be bottlenecks as trucking firms try to meet the increase in demand.
  3. Hoarding. Milk and dairy products are normally high-demand products, and hoarding only worsens the problem. Milk is typically in 94% of households normally, and other dairy products are in 99% of households. If shoppers buy 5 to 10 gallons on weekend, it’s difficult for stores to quickly restock under normal delivery schedules.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has teamed up with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW), the state’s dairy checkoff program, to address supply shortages in stores and remove limits on products where appropriate.

“DFW and DATCP are deeply engaged with the grocery network and supply chain across [Wisconsin],” says Chad Vincent, DFW CEO. “While we can’t lobby or influence the price of milk and dairy sold, we serve as the voice of farmers and have heard their requests. As a result, we have been on the phone asking individual retailers to lift purchasing limits for dairy.”

If you see limits being placed on milk and dairy products, Romanksi and Vincent urge dairy farmers to ask to speak to store or department managers to understand why the limits are still in place. If appropriate, respectfully ask they be removed, they say.

In Wisconsin, if speaking to the manager doesn’t resolve the issue, take a photo of the sign, along with the location of the store and the date along with your contact information and submit to the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin website at

Beef and Small Ruminant Certifications

While we know agriculture doesn’t stop for anything, Delaware Cooperative Extension is taking precautionary measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  We appreciate your support and understanding as we work together to keep our communities safe and healthy. Currently, we are not able to conduct face to face meetings but we encourage you to visit: for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification.  The courses that are available teach methods for raising your cattle in accordance with BQA fundamentals. Topics involve: cattle health, stockmanship, marketing, emergency planning, and meat quality. With three certification classes available, you can choose one that relates to your operation.

In addition, for those small ruminant producers who would like FAMACHA© certification, the University of Rhode Island has an on-line course: Use of the FAMACHA© scoring system allows small ruminant producers to make deworming decisions based on an estimate of the level of anemia in sheep and goats affected by barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) infection. As the barberpole worm is most abundant in the warm and humid moths of the year it is very important that small ruminant producers are prepared for the spring and summer months to come.

The FAMACHA© card, developed in South Africa, was introduced to the U.S. by the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control  (  This online training program was developed by Dr. Katherine Petersson and Dr. Anne Zajac, DVM, members of the ACSRPC, as part of a Northeast SARE grant and is administered by the University of Rhode Island.  The ACSRPC fully endorses the program for those who are unable to attend a workshop.    

If you have any questions please feel free to contact:

Dan Severson                          Kwame Mathews                                Susan Garey                      

302-299-9158                         302-857-6540                                     (302)242-1510


Emergency Mini Grants Available for Livestock and Poultry Farmers from Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT)

In response to farmer feedback, FACT is now accepting mini-grant applications from livestock and poultry farmers whose businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers may request of up to $500 for materials, services or equipment that would help them to transition to an online or alternative sales strategy, or for other projects that would help their farm business to maintain sales during this crisis.


Farms must be located in the continental United States and be working, independent family farms. These are farms on which a family or individual owns the animals, is engaged in the day to day management of the farm and its animals, derives a share of livelihood from the farm, and produces a livestock product for sale.

Applicants must own or be employed by a farm that raises livestock (ruminants, swine) and/or poultry and express a commitment to raising their animals using humane management practices. Non-profit organizations, schools, and animal sanctuaries are not eligible.


Farmers can request mini-grants for materials, services or equipment that would help them to transition to an online or alternative sales strategy (e.g. home delivery, on-farm sales), or for other projects that would help their farm business to maintain sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration or freezer units for on-farm store
  • Credit card chip reader
  • Insulated bags or coolers for home delivery
  • Website or online store development (don’t forget about our Online Farm Store Webinar today!)
  • Essential supplies to maintain operation or ensure safety

Please note: we are not able to fund projects related to the processing/slaughter of animals or raw milk at this time. Equine, aquaculture and beekeeping-focused projects are also not eligible for this mini-grant program.


Farmers may request a mini-grant of up to $500 by completing a short online application. Mini-grants will be awarded on a rolling basis to eligible farmers until funding is depleted, after which time farmers will be placed on a wait-list in the event that additional funding becomes available. We are only able to award one mini-grant per farm or household.

FACT staff will evaluate applications as they come in and, if deeded eligible, approve the project for funding. Funds will be distributed within 14 business days.

Farmers who receive mini-grants will be asked to complete a brief report by June 30.

If a mini-grant recipient does not complete the project for which they received funds, all funds must be returned to FACT. In the case that a project costs less than expected, we ask that any remaining funds in excess of $50 be refunded to FACT.

If you have any questions about our Emergency Mini-Grant Program after reviewing our guidelines, you may email me at

Please be well and stay safe and healthy.

Telemedicine Now Available To Treat Livestock And Pets, FDA Says

Veterinarians can now use telemedicine practices to address animal health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a decision announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“This pandemic has had impacts on many of our everyday lives and professions, and during this time, we need to provide veterinarians with the latitude to expand the use of telemedicine in the care of animals, not only pets, but also the animals that produce our food,” said Stephen M. Hahn, FDA commissioner, in a prepared statement. “The FDA is providing flexibility that will help veterinarians maintain the health of animals during the pandemic, while allowing for the social distancing that is so important in limiting the further spread of coronavirus disease across the country and the world.”

Federal veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) regulations have required veterinarians, historically, to physically examine animal patients to make medical determinations and prescribe treatment. Veterinarians not complying with the law were at risk of losing their license.

John Howe, president of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, weighed-in on the FDA’s decision during an interview with AgriTalk host Chip Flory on Wednesday.

Howe said the temporary relaxation of requirements is a good thing, but something animal owners and veterinarians need to use with caution. “I’ve had clients call me and say their cow has one problem, but you go out there and it was something else,” he noted.

Still, FDA’s decision will make it easier for veterinarians to work with farmers and ranchers in the near term—whether they need treatment for a pet or a large animal. Based on a video, photographs and description of the health problem, “the veterinarian will be able to prescribe extra-label drugs or write a veterinary feed directive say for a group of beef cattle suffering from respiratory disease to get them treated,” Howe said.

While the FDA is suspending enforcement of the federal regulations, Howe cautioned that individual states have the final say in whether or how telemedicine is used. Livestock owners should contact their local veterinarian to determine what telemedicine options are available.

What’s the Silver Lining?

I just finished one of the many Zoom meetings I have already participated in this week.  It’s quite remarkable really how quickly we have moved ourselves into a completely virtual, online community.  The meeting was organized by Future Harvest to discuss the challenges and opportunities of COVID-19 for agriculture, in particular those facing smaller farmers who tend to be more connected to their consumers than our larger commodity production based farmers.  Near the start of the meeting, one of the farmer panelists posed this very question, “What’s the silver lining with COVID-19?”  With all of the negative news bombarding us 24 hours a day right now, it may not even occur to us that there might be any positive outcomes of a global pandemic.  Later in the virtual discussion another farmer commented, “This is the moment we have all been waiting for as local farmers….people are looking to us for food” and I agree.

From my point of view, we are so fortunate to live in a region with a very abundant, diverse, safe and affordable food supply and if you didn’t realize this before, you likely certainly do now.  In this time of uncertainty I have witnessed the shock on people’s faces at empty shelves in the big retail stores but in contrast I have seen our local, family owned, small farm markets, butcher shops, and direct to customer food producers step up to keep food on our shelves and in our refrigerators. They are doing so in an organized way, taking care of our older and at risk populations with thought and care.  This is an opportune time for direct market farmers to grow their customer base.  With the practice of social distancing and people becoming more reluctant to shop in a crowd, short term shortages of some food products due to overbuying, local is rapidly becoming more desirable and the “new normal”.

For some growers who supply restaurants as a large part of their customer base, this could be a scary time, since restaurants have shuttered or at best been reduced to take out only.  The good news is there is still time for these types of operations to pivot, according to Beckie Gurley of Calvert’s Gift Farm.  The average consumer has slightly different preferences for more basic crops than a restaurant so growers might consider changes in growing plans now. If this human health crisis occurred in the middle of the summer, when crops were already in the ground, it would be too late for farmers to make a change in their “crop portfolio”.

Future Harvest, in cooperation with organizations such Delmarva Grown, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Maryland Farmers Market Association, maintains a Find A Farmer and Market Map on their website.  The site has seen exponential increases in web traffic since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.  Farmers in the region, including Delaware, can get listed on this site within 24 hours of submitting their information through an online Google form.  The form collects such information as type of business, location, food products available, ways to order, acceptable methods of payment and how consumers pick up or receive their order.  If you would like to be included on the map, the form to submit your information can be founds here:

These are unprecedented times and it’s difficult right now to predict exactly what the landscape will look like a few months down the road. I certainly hope the current increased desire to buy local will continue once we as a planet have the current pandemic controlled but without a doubt it is a good time for farmers to make some new friends and new customers.

Bacon Answer

Traditional bacon in the United States is a cut of meat from the belly of a pig that is cured either in a dry rub or in a liquid brine and may or may not be smoked.  You can also get uncured bacon but I just call that fresh pork belly.  However, depending on where you are from the answer may differ.  For example, Canadian bacon comes from the loin of a pig and has more of a ham taste.  To really put some ideas out there, I have made bacon from pork, goat, sheep, deer and beef.  Granted I still used the belly of the animal just so I could get close to the fat/meat ratio that I prefer in bacon.

This is just my interpretation and may not be yours but I can’t go wrong with bacon.

Question for 3/23/2020

I am going to start asking a question and let everyone have a chance to think about it and figure out an answer. Don’t Google the answer just think about it and shoot form the hip.

My first question is “What is bacon and where does is come from?”