Direct COVID-19 payment program opens; United Fresh launches webpage

06:35PM May 26, 2020
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( Courtesy United Fresh )

The United Fresh Produce Association has launched a webpage with detailed information on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the direct payment program to help producers reclaim some of the losses from the pandemic.

Of the $16 billion allocated to agriculture producers, the specialty crop industry has been allocated $2.1 billion. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency started accepting application on May 26.

In his May 26 industry update to United Fresh members on the COVID-19 crisis, association president and CEO Tom Stenzel urged companies to investigate if they’re eligible to participate in the program, and apply if they are.

“While USDA is limited to direct payments to growers, these payments also are meant to help reduce the burdens associated with the inability of some customers to pay for produce that had been delivered before the shut down of the foodservice sector,” Stenzel wrote in the update. “If growers still have outstanding bills to good customers, these payments can help offset some of those as well.”

Stenzel said because it’s a new program, and the produce industry has “little to no experience with direct payments,” there will likely be some hiccups. 

For more information on USDA programs on the pandemic, see The Packer's COVID-19 webpage.

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USDA releases plan on $2.1 billion in COVID-19 payments to growers