Market News & Headlines >> Initial USDA Coronavirus Aid Expected Soon

USDA will spend up to $15.5 billion in the initial phase of its plan to bolster the nation's food supply chain against the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters News Service on Tuesday.  

The initial plan will include direct payments to farmers and ranchers, along with other support measures, using a portion of the $23.5 billion approved by Congress to support agriculture in a coronavirus stimulus bill last month, along with some existing USDA funds, according to the sources. 

The USDA will announce the initial plan as early as this week, and is expected to detail later phases of the support program once more money from the stimulus bill becomes available, potentially in July, they said. 

Lawmakers set aside $9.5 billion in the coronavirus stimulus bill, or CARES Act, for USDA to assist livestock producers, along with fruit and vegetable growers and others who sell through farmers markets. 

That money is already available to USDA and is expected to be part of the funds tapped in the program to be announced this week. The rest is expected to come from some $6 billion currently in the Commodity Credit Corp (CCC) funding authority. The CARES Act also added another $14 billion in funding for the CCC, but those funds won't be available until after June 30, a USDA spokesperson told Reuters.