Sen. Joni Ernst is urging the USDA to include egg farmers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
By Diego Flammini
A U.S. senator from the country’s top egg-producing state is calling on the USDA to provide supports for egg farmers in the same way it has for producers of other commodities.
Senator Joni Ernst is asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to include egg producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
The program, which Secretary Perdue announced in April, provides US$16 billion in direct support payments to producers and sets aside US$3 billion for the USDA to purchase produce, dairy and meat and distribute it to food banks and other community groups.
Beef, hog, dairy and crop producers are listed as those who are eligible to receive payments. For a commodity to qualify for support it must have seen at least a 5 per cent price drop between January and April 2020.
Egg producers, however, aren’t on the list.
Like other farmers, egg producers have had to make difficult decisions during the pandemic and need support, Ernst said.
“With restaurants and other commercial facilities closed down or limiting operations, our egg industry has seen a drastic drop in demand and as a result some have had to dump product,” she wrote in a May 5 letter to Secretary Perdue.
Egg producers have also put portions of their flock into molt, and some have culled flocks, she wrote.
Egg farmers need to be included in the CFAP to help them survive through the pandemic. And the USDA should consider purchasing liquid egg products for distribution, she added.
The USDA is working to ensure American farmers are taken care of and will re-evaluate programs as necessary.
“USDA worked to build up this program from the ground up, evaluating the impacts of COVID-19 throughout the agricultural and food sector and then reviewed the resources we had available to do the best we can with what we have,” a USDA spokesperson told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “This is intended to be an inclusive program and more information will be provided in the rulemaking. As we implement and get applications, we will continue to evaluate impacts and work with Congress as more resources are needed.”
Farms.com has reached out to egg producers for comment.