The U.S. Department of Agriculture's coronavirus relief program for farmers faced criticism early on, but farmers hailed the initiative as a success in interview with Newsweek on Monday.
The program, Farmers to Families, sends two-pound boxes of groceries, including fresh vegetables, meat and dairy products, to families in need during the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 65 million boxes sent so far.
"Government got this one right," said Chalmers Carr, who owns and runs Titan Farms in South Carolina. "You couldn't ask for a better one-two combination, period."
Carr told Newsweek, when the coronavirus broke out, 80% of his broccoli crop that had been planted in February had to be shut down or scaled back.
"We were throwing perfectly good broccoli away," he said, noting the food boxes have helped to create demand. "It's definitely helped on our end."
Newsweek notes almost all of the farmers, distributors, and suppliers they spoke with said, despite an imperfect beginning, the program has proved vital to sustaining the national food supply chain during the coronavirus pandemic.
White House adviser Ivanka Trump, who helped to launch the program, told Newsweek: "It truly is an historic program in terms of the scale and in terms of its impact. It was really 'How do we connect the farmer with the person most in need?' It was a common sense, but innovative, solution."
She added, "It really is a beautiful, virtuous, and enormous program."
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