Ag Policy Blog

USDA Announces Food Purchase Program and Biofuel Infrastructure Grants

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
USDA stated Monday it will spend $470 million to buy commodity products that will be distributed nationally. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on Monday that USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will spend $470 million to buy a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products.

These Section 32 program purchases will provide additional support for producers and Americans in need, in response to changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency, Perdue said.

The list of products and value involved includes $120 million in dairy products; $50 million in potatoes and turkey products; $35 million in strawberries; $20 million in pork, and other commodities were also detailed.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., in a news release expressed confidence that Mississippi catfish producers and processors will benefit from a $30 million purchase for distribution to food banks and community support programs.

“The coronavirus has depressed the market for catfish and other commodities, and Secretary Perdue is right to exercise his power to use an existing program to purchase surplus food that can be directed toward food banks,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

“Mississippi producers and processing facilities will benefit from this action which is really a win-win for them and for people who need help getting food during these difficult days,” she said.

Hyde-Smith noted that Perdue is using his authority under Section 32, a permanently-authorized program, to make emergency purchases of surplus U.S. commodities for distribution to domestic food assistance programs. The program is funded through a 30% appropriation of the previous year’s customs receipts collected by the federal government from imported products.

-USDA Announces Additional Food Purchase Plans…

-Selling Food to USDA:…

USDA Announces $100 million Higher Blends Infrastructure Program

USDA also announced the department intends to make available $100 million in competitive grants to assist transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities.

The grants will help retailers move to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by offsetting some of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment, and infrastructure.

“America’s energy independence is critical to our economic security, and President [Donald] Trump fully recognizes the importance of our ethanol and biofuels industries and the positive impacts they deliver to consumers and farmers with an affordable, abundant, and clean burning fuel,” Perdue said.

“American ethanol and biofuel producers have been affected by decreased energy demands due to the coronavirus, and these grants to expand their availability will help increase their use during our economic resurgence.”

The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program consists of up to $100 million in funding for competitive grants or sales incentives to eligible entities for activities designed to expand the sales and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Grants for up to 50% of total eligible project costs, but not more than $5 million, are available to vehicle fueling facilities, including, but not limited to, local fueling stations/locations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, fuel terminal operations, midstream partners and/or distribution facilities.

USDA plans to make available approximately $86 million for implementation activities related to higher blends of fuel ethanol, and approximately $14 million for implementation activities related to higher blends of biodiesel. Higher biofuel blends are fuels containing ethanol greater than 10% by volume and/or fuels containing biodiesel blends greater than five percent by volume.

American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President and Market Development Director Ron Lamberty said, “ACE is gratified to see many policies we recommended to USDA to make the program more accessible to single store and small chain operators were included in the final program.”

“In particular, we appreciate the Targeted Assistance Goal (TAG) which makes approximately 40% of funds available specifically for applicants owning 10 fueling stations/locations or fewer. USDA is also offering applicants ‘consideration for geographical diversity and markets underserved by higher blends’ to help establish higher blend retail facilities in a broader geographic area, which ACE identified as critical to widespread E15 use in our recommendations to USDA."

USDA Rural Development: What is the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program?…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

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