Coronavirus payouts for struggling farmers coming soon: Agriculture secretary

Dairy and meat producers are having to dump products

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Thursday that the Agriculture Department hopes to release a plan to get direct payments to farmers struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic "very soon."

"We spoke to the president yesterday about that and we hope to have it out, announced very quickly," Perdue told "Mornings with Maria." "There will be direct payments both to our specialty crops, both to our dairy, our livestock ... and commodities as well that have suffered from this. It's affected all of agriculture."

SMITHFIELD CORONAVIRUS SHUTDOWN CONCERNS SHORTAGE-WARY MEAT INDUSTRY

"If we don't have the farmers and ranchers there to produce food, then there won't be full shelves in the fall," he added.

Perdue said the initial tranche for direct payments would "probably" be in the $16 billion to $18 billion range.

President Donald Trump listens as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dairy farmers are dumping milk as prices crash due to the pandemic choking off most of the industry's usual customers. Pork producers are also worried about falling prices, and on Tuesday the National Pork Producers Council requested that the USDA make $1 billion in pork purchases. Perdue said Thursday the department planned to go along with their requests.

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