Leahy And Merkley Call On USDA To Speed Food And Farm Assistance Out The Door

WASHINGTON (Friday, May 15, 2020) – Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, And Related Agencies Ranking Member Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) Friday released a letter to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue calling on the Department to increase its efforts to speed funding for food aid appropriated by Congress out the door and to those in need.

Congress appropriated $36 billion to the Department to help it respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including for critical nutrition assistance and direct support to agricultural producers.  However, only 20 percent of those funds have been obligated even as demand increases and farmers suffer.

Leahy and Merkley wrote: “Particularly troubling is the delay in getting nutrition assistance out the door to address growing food insecurity across the country… This money should be getting out to the people who need it, not stuck in Washington caught up in red tape.”

Vital programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which supports the country’s food banks, have only obligated a fraction of the funding that Congress appropriated, and the Department has left $1 billion appropriated for child nutrition programs stuck in Washington red tape. 

Earlier this week, Leahy and Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) urged FEMA Administrator Gaynor to increase its efforts to deliver food aid to those in need.

Leahy and Merkley’s full letter is available HERE.

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Jay Tilton w/Leahy:  202-224-2667

Martina McLennan/Ray Zaccaro w/Merkely: MerkleyPressOffice@merkley.senate.gov.