FILE - US Donald Trump 4-20-2020

President Donald Trump holds up a printout of an article defending his administration's handling of ventilator shortages as he speaks to reporters during his briefing on the coronavirus outbreak April 20, 2020.

(The Center Square) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to help farmers, ranchers and others in the food industry impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program will provide $19 billion in funding to assist American families, help food industry workers stay healthy and pay for other related costs.

Of that, "$16 billion is going directly to farmers and ranchers" for losses related to COVID-19, Trump said at the White House, surrounded by leaders in the industry.

"You remind us once again that the American farmer is the backbone of our country," Trump said.

The remaining $3 billion will be used to buy food to provide to families who need it, Trump said.

The president noted that 40 percent of vegetables grown in the U.S. and 40 percent of beef goes to the nation's restaurants, many of which have been shuttered by stay-at-home orders states put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Several U.S. meat packing plants also have had to close temporarily because of COVID-19 outbreaks among workers.

U.S. pork producers are warning that 10 million pigs may need to be euthanized by September. The National Pork Producers Council is seeking $505 million in federal funds to help pay for costs related to euthanasia. The council also asked Congress for nearly $1.12 billion in federal aid for farmers who can't sell pigs because of production slowdowns.

Trump said farmers and ranchers will be able to apply for the funding beginning May 26 local farm agencies.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

Executive Editor

Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago.