Apples, potatoes now included in coronavirus sales loss payments

11:04AM Jul 09, 2020
( USDA )

Apples and potatoes are among the crops now eligible for direct payments to growers for sales losses in the $2.1 billion in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funds for specialty crops.

The USDA added those items, along with blueberries, garlic, raspberries, tangerines and taro to the list of commodities in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

The USDA announced the additions in a July 9 notice. Peaches and rhubarb no longer qualify for payment based on sales losses because of revised calculations, according to the notice.

Apples, initially left out of the program’s component dealing with price declines, are now eligible for five cents per pound. Data submitted showed an industry average loss of 10.9%, above the 5% minimum threshold to qualify for payments for sales losses, the USDA said.

“Many apple growers are hanging on by their fingernails, so USDA’s decision is great news and not a moment too soon,” U.S. Apple Association president and CEO Jim Bair said in a news release. “Growers usually take the risks of weather and markets in stride, but the impact of COVID-19 pushed many right to the edge. We thank and congratulate USDA for this welcome news.”

U.S. Apple submitted more than 30 pages of data to USDA detailing actual sales numbers on more than 43 million bushels of apples, more than half of all the apples marketed in the three-month period outlined in eligibility requirements, according to the release. Price declines ranged from 6.5% to 24.9%, according to the apple association.

The USDA said potatoes were added as an eligible commodity because of data submitted by the industry.

Original prices used by USDA to determine eligibility were for table stock fresh potatoes and not for processing or seed potatoes.

“The industry data show that seed potatoes had a 15% price decline and fresh retail and foodservice potatoes had a 6.7% price decline over the rule stated period,” the USDA said in the Federal Register notice.

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