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Perdue: Time to end the food box program

With USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program set to end October 31, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the Trump Administration would prefer to end the program and let the market do its job.

The existing business system is better at getting food to people than USDA, Perdue said during the United Fresh Produce Association’s BB #:145458 Washington conference September 22.

“We want to let the market work and get back to normal,” he said.

United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel pressed Perdue to continue the program and said the discussion would continue after their on-camera chat.

Perdue said USDA has funded the food box program with $4 billion, and it’s been a huge success.

“It’s has been a food miracle, and I’m proud of the food companies,” he said. “The food box is not rescue food. It’s food any of us would like to take home to our families.”

The secretary said both USDA and American consumers have learned much about our nation’s food system during this pandemic.

“I learned that we have two efficient supply chains with foodservice and retail,” he said, and it has been a challenge to keep food moving when foodservice has been so disrupted the past six months.

“Americans are extremely resilient,” Perdue said. “We didn’t see any food shortages.”

Perdue also praised the food workers in the U.S., saying they’re essential, front line workers, and they should have early access to a COVID-19 vaccine when a safe one becomes available.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services