UEP weighs in on future USDA purchases

April 8, 2021

The Agriculture Department should step up purchases of eggs and egg products as it reviews and redesigns food procurement programs, UEP said in comments submitted to the department’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). AMS asked for public input on “a food purchase and distribution program intended to provide additional aid to nonprofits serving Americans in need of nutrition assistance.”

Large USDA food purchases are expected in the coming months. The recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act provides up to $3.6 billion for commodity purchases, while prior funds left unspent by the Trump administration would likely bring that total up to around $5 billion and possibly more. This is in addition to normal USDA purchases of commodities for schools, senior citizen programs and other assistance. Most of the additional purchases will go to food banks for distribution to food-insecure families.

The American Rescue Plan Act, as reported in the last newsletter, contains a number of provisions to help the agriculture sector. UEP’s D.C. team, led by Cornerstone Government Affairs, successfully worked with allies in Congress to include language in the new law that specifically requires USDA to purchase eggs with the additional funds – one of only a few commodities singled out.

In the comments to AMS, UEP President and CEO Chad Gregory wrote that as the department considers redesigning food purchase programs, including potential changes to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, USDA should:

  • Allow eggs to fully substitute for meat in food boxes;
  • Help food banks add refrigerated storage and transportation, which will allow them to offer popular items like eggs that need to be kept cool;
  • Increase eggs and egg products as a proportion of total purchases, recognizing the intent of Congress in singling out eggs in recent legislation; and
  • Include value-added products packaged for single-family use, such as hard-cooked eggs.