AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The USDA market facilitation program is in place to help producers who are struggling due to tariffs.
According to the USDA, farmers across the nation received around $14.5 billion, through this program. During this time, the USDA has received around $1.5 billion to purchase commodities. In Texas, all that extra food is going to food banks to help those in need.
“For example, apples are not grown in Texas, so we have to import those and to get those you know through the USDA in this trade mitigation has been huge," said Zack Wilson, the executive director at the High Plains Food Bank. "That’s one thing we usually hear a lot is, wish you had a lot more produce, wish you had a lot more protein items on top of you know non-perishable food items, so it has really been a lifesaver for us in 2019.”
The High Plains Food Bank has been able to receive items hard to attain through donations, such as dairy and fresh produce.
“Some of the food items we receive through trade mitigation are pork, apples, dairy products, pistachios, oranges, grapes, rice, potatoes, and walnuts. So these are some additional products that are available to all of our partners across the Panhandle,” said Wilson.
This year, the High Plains Food Bank has been averaging about 100,000 pounds of food a month from the USDA. It really helps them provide food to those in need, as they send out an average of 700,000 pounds of food a month.
“So it has really come at a time where you know food donations have been down for us historically. All year we expect to end the year flat on that, but it has been a huge channel of extra food we can send out the door because of this program,” said Wilson.
Because this program has to do with trade and tariffs, there is no timeline as to when it will end.
“They have announced that in 2020 there will be some additional buying just as in 2019, so we’re very excited to hear that it is official and we will have to wait and see of course what that means for us, but we expect it will probably be the same amount of food and items that we received this year,” said Wilson.
Wilson explained that as this program comes to an end in the future, they will have discussions with the USDA to see what they need to do to keep receiving the extra produce.