Lawmakers ask for USDA help for specialty crop industry

10:56PM Mar 23, 2020
coronavirus industry web
( The Packer )

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide targeted assistance for the specialty crop industry because of losses resulting from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter was signed by Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif, Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Fred Upton, R-Mich. and 23 other lawmakers, according to a news release.

“As you work to continue mitigating the impacts of this emergency on our nation’s agriculture industry, we ask that you include targeted relief for the specialty crop industry,” the letter said. “Such relief will not only help producers who are facing significant financial challenges but also support efforts to provide food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

The lawmakers requested:

  • Regulatory flexibility to implement the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act “under the circumstances of this emergency”;
  • A commitment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for federal nutrition programs;
  • Direct support to specialty crop producers whose customers are now unable to fulfill their previous purchase commitments due to the current crisis; 
  • Speedy implementation of the recovery and stability plan submitted by the specialty crop industry in response to the novel coronavirus emergency; and
  • Use of all resources at USDA’s discretion, including carryover funds from the previous fiscal year, to address the immediate needs of the specialty crop industry.

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