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Pandemic hitting all parts of economy; farmers and food banks in line for aid package

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Roger Hadley, who farms about 800 acres in Allen County, welcomes a coronavirus relief package that aims to help farmers deal with financial suffering connected to the pandemic.
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Prairie Farms secured a government contract to supply dairy goods to Community Harvest Food Bank to qualify for reimbursement payments.

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - It's rare to find a sector of the U.S. economy that isn't taking a beating from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pain is even being felt down on the farm.

But a government aid package announced this week is expected to make a difference for farmers and food banks.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which will provide up to $16-billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the pandemic.

Woodburn grain and livestock farmer Roger Hadley says the relief package is much needed at a time when farmers have been hurt by things like the shutdown of schools and the slowdown of restaurants that buy many of their products.

Food banks are benefiting from aid too.

Under the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, Prairie Farms won a contract to provide milk, cottage cheese and other dairy goods to Community Harvest Food Bank.

Prairie Farms then gets reimbursed by the federal government, helping the company support its payroll.

"So, not only does it help our local clients, people that are out of jobs right now, it's helping them, and it's helping to sustain (their) jobs...It's full circle," said Carmen Cumberland, the executive president of Community Harvest Food Bank.

Roger Hadley says the aid to farmers is a good thing, but he doesn't think it will be enough to save many farming operations from dire financial consequences.

"This is a band-aid, like the dam that just busted in Michigan, all that does is slow the water flow down, there's no way you can stop the flow of blood that's happening with this, and not just to the farmer," Hadley said.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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