Democrats critical of USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is traveling to promote the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program, but Democratic lawmakers remain critical of the program.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin tells Brownfield many of the contractors that are making and distributing food boxes are not qualified and Baldwin says some have had contracts revoked.  “Far fewer food boxes have been distributed than were expected using these funds, and there’s also reporting about stop-work orders that have been issued, so there’s an acute need.”

USDA says about five million food boxes have been delivered, but Perdue’s goal is to distribute 40 million boxes by the end of this month.  Senate leaders wrote to Perdue Friday questioning how companies were selected, how the money is being spent, and where the distribution gaps are.

Baldwin says Wisconsin put in a comprehensive application for funding in the Food Box program using a coalition of folks who have done this type of work before and was turned down.  “The USDA has a lot of explaining to do about why inexperienced and poor-performing contractors in other states have been awarded contracts while qualified partners in Wisconsin have been left behind.”

Baldwin says less than one percent of the contracts for dairy so far have come to Wisconsin.  The Dairy State’s delegation sent a separate letter to Perdue questioning the dairy purchasing within the food box program.

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