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The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released details of $470 million in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020. Those purchases will be in addition to purchases previously announced by the USDA. The Section 32 purchases are intended to provide additional support for producers and Americans in need in response to changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products. Specific purchase amounts for each commodity are featured in the accompanying table. Purchases are determined by industry requests, market analyses and food-bank needs. The Agricultural Marketing Service will begin issuing solicitations in June and intends to begin deliveries in July.

Details on how vendors may participate are available on the Selling Food to USDA page on the Agricultural Marketing Service’ website. Solicitations will be posted to the Agricultural Marketing Service Open Purchases Request website once available. Industry requests for future purchases using Section 32 funds, including potential plans for fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020, will be assessed on an ongoing basis.

In addition to Section 32 purchases, USDA will use other available funds to purchase food in support of American agriculture on an ongoing basis and in response to recent disruptions in the food-supply chains. USDA plans to purchase 100 percent American-grown and produced agricultural products totaling $4.89 billion for the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year.

Farmers to Families Food Box Program $3 billion

USDA is exercising authority in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to partner with regional and local distributors whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels and other foodservice entities. It will purchase and distribute $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products. The purchases will be distributed through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

The Agricultural Marketing Service will procure 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. Pre-approved boxes of fresh produce, dairy and meat products will be provided to food banks and other nonprofits.

Emergency Food Assistance Program – additional $850 million

USDA – on an ongoing basis – supports low-income families through the Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA purchases a variety of foods using Section 32 and other funds and makes those foods available for distribution to states to operate the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

USDA plans to use an additional $400 million provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and $450 million provided by the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act to make additional purchases for Emergency Food Assistance Program recipients. The commodities and products procured for the program will be determined by food-bank need and product availability.

Support Program for Farmers – $573.6 million

Through the Food Purchase and Distribution Program the Agricultural Marketing Service is continuing plans to purchase $1.4 billion in agricultural products produced by U.S. farmers, ranchers and producers suffering from damage due to trade retaliation by foreign countries.

A total of $573.6 million remains for the purchases in fiscal year 2020. The food purchases are provided to states for distribution to the network of food banks and food pantries that participate in the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Visit ams.usda.gov and search for “Farmers to Families Food Box” and fns.usda.gov and search for “Emergency Food Assistance Program” for more information.