President Trump and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced some $2.7 billion in financial support targeted to the fruit and vegetable industry in response to the overwhelming losses from the COVID-19 emergency.
That support is divided with $2.1 billion allocated for direct payment to growers, and $100 million per month for the next six months in produce purchases, reports George Lauriat in the American Journal of Transportation (AJOT).
“From the moment that the foodservice channel was shut down, we’ve worked hard with our members and allied produce associations across the country to formulate a plan for the government to help those who have been hit the hardest,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh.
“The U.S. potato industry is $4 billion annually with 60% of that total involving food service,” said Kam Quarles, CEO of FFVA. “Potato growers appreciate Secretary Perdue’s rapid action intended to stabilize family farms whose survival is threatened due to the mandated food service shutdown. Today’s announcement is a down payment on those efforts that will require additional resources and flexibility to deliver the necessary relief for our great potato industry.”
“Farmers who provide our fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts have suffered massive economic damage, triggered by the nearly complete shutdown of the food service sector,” said Dave Puglia, CEO of WG. “This crisis threatens to put thousands of farmers and associated companies out of business. …Clearly, far more will be needed with more reasonable limits.”