Ivanka Trump to launch $3B coronavirus farmers aid with USDA secretary in Maryland

'Families Food Box' part of $19B COVID-19 assistance in CARES Act

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Ivanka Trump, an advisor to the president, will accompany Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to Coastal Sunbelt Produce wholesaler on Friday to celebrate the launch of the USDA's $3 billion "Farmers to Families Food Box" program.

The program is part of the $19 billion coronavirus farmer's assistance program, which was included in the administration's $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, and it requires certain food distributors to allocate food from small farms to non-profits and faith-based groups.

"Small businesses are the backbone of America’s economy," Trump told FOX Business in a statement. "Whether it be through the massively successful PPP program, including small agricultural businesses in EIDL, or by awarding up to [$3 billion] to small, regional farmers, ranchers and distributors through the Farmers to Families Food Box program, this administration will continue to implement innovative and impactful policies to bolster American workers, families and small business owners."

Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, wears an American flag pin on her mask as she tours Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Laurel, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

John Corso, CEO of The Coastal Companies, told FOX Business in a statement that the company is "excited to host the USDA and distinguished guests" at its Coastal Sunbelt facility, and added that the "Farmers to Families Food Box Program is an opportunity to support our community, distribute food to those who need it, and keep our crew members working."

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Trump told USA Today that Farmers to Families "really creates a virtuous cycle," adding that there is a "robust demand" from food producers, consumers and "the most vulnerable in these challenging times."

Perdue said the program will also help address food supply chain gaps that came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as beef and pork supply shortages that have occurred due to factory shutdowns. Dairy farmers throughout the nation were forced to pour portions of their milk supply down the drain in April.

From left, Coastal Sunbelt Produce CEO John Corso, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, tour Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Laurel, Md. (AP Photo/An

"There was a misallocation of supply and demand, temporarily," Perdue told USA Today.

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The USDA will partner with regional and local distributors whose business has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent state lockdowns that led to the closure of many food-service entities, according to the USDA's website.

The USDA did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

From left, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Coastal Sunbelt Produce CEO John Corso, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, tour Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Laurel, Md. (AP Photo/An

The first daughter said she made a phone call to UPS chief executive David Abdney and asked him to volunteer trucks to help distribute food, and that she and others are "pulling all the levers" they can, according to USA Today.

"I think when you work in the White House, you tend to have your calls returned," Trump told the outlet. "And I think most Americans are patriots and want to answer the call to action when things are requested of them."

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She added that she is "not shy about asking people to step up to the plate."

"The whole country needs to be galvanized in the effort, both to combat this deadly virus, but also to rebuild ... to rebuild our economy as we emerge," she told USA Today.

Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump tours Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Laurel, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Trump has spent much of her time in the White House advocating for small-business owners, families and students. On April 8, Trump said her outreach to big financial firms, including Bank of America and Mastercard, helped generate $1.6 billion in private-sector initiatives to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus shutdown.

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Both banks have committed tens of millions to help small businesses in addition to taking part in the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program and were included in a virtual White House meeting about private initiatives.

From left, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Coastal Sunbelt Produce CEO John Corso, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, tour Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Laurel, Md. (AP Photo/An

"We went back to many of the same employers as Pledge to America's Workers ... to ask what specifically can you do to help workers in this time of crisis," Trump previously told FOX Business, referring to a multi-year White House initiative focused on job training.

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The country lost 20.7 million jobs in April alone as COVID-19 shuttered more businesses, pushing unemployment to 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression.

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FOX Business' Evie Fordham contributed to this report.