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Contract livestock producers get $270 million in pandemic aid

Payments totaling $270 million are being made to so-called contract producers to offset revenue lost to the pandemic in 2020, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. Previous aid programs were directed at the owners of livestock but not the farmers who produced hogs, poultry, and eggs under contract to them.

The USDA also said it has paid $42 million in pandemic assistance to farmers who had to cull livestock and poultry last year because there was no market for their animals due to COVID-19 outbreaks at processing plants. It has also paid $9 million to the logging and log hauling industry and $350 million for dairy market volatility.

Participation in the pandemic relief program by historically underserved farmers has increased fourfold since the enrollment window for coronavirus aid was reopened on April 5, said the USDA, though it did not say what the total was.

In August, when it opened enrollment for aid to contract growers of pigs and poultry, the USDA said up to $1 billion was available.

As of Monday, USDA data showed pandemic aid of $30.6 billion to farmers and ranchers since May 2020, when payments began.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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