By P.J. Huffstutter and Karl Plume
CHICAGO (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday announced a $19 billion relief program to help U.S. farmers cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including $16 billion in direct payments to producers and mass purchases of meat, dairy, vegetables and other products.
The U.S. Agriculture Department is partnering with regional and local distributors to purchase $3 billion in such farm goods to be distributed to food banks, churches and aid groups as millions of Americans face unemployment with much of the U.S. economy shut down.
“American agriculture has been hard-hit, like most of America, with the coronavirus, and President Trump is standing with our farmers and all Americans to make sure that we all get through this national emergency,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny…