Farmers due for another $19 billion in coronavirus aid, but prospects unclear for hemp producers

Pressured to ensure a consistent food supply, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced an additional $19 billion for farmers affected by the pandemic.

Most of the money is set aside for direct payments to farms producing milk, meat and produce, making it questionable how many hemp producers may be eligible for assistance.

The new round of farm assistance comes as the food supply chain has been upended by restaurant and school closures, leading some farmers to dump milk or plow under vegetables even as food demand in grocery stores spikes.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the lifeline Friday night. Some $16 billion is designated for direct payments to farmers and ranchers who can show losses resulting from lost demand and supply-chain disruptions attributable to COVID-19. There was little detail about how farmers would show eligibility.

Another $3 billion will be used to buy meat, dairy and produce directly from farmers, to be redistributed to food banks and other charities.

The USDA also released a resource guide for rural communities affected by pandemic disruptions.