Fruit and vegetable industry targeted for $2.7 billion in financial relief

April 20, 2020

fouLast week some $2.7 billion was announced 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.

“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 and CEO of United Fresh. “Working together with the co-chairs of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance — Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Potato Council, and Western Growers — we have collectively developed specific proposals supported by the broad fruit and vegetable industry to outline our needs to USDA and the Administration.”

“The damage to Florida producers of fresh fruits and vegetables has been swift, staggering and devastating,” said Mike Joyner, president of FFVA. “Florida specialty crop growers have suffered more than $520 million in losses for this season. The programs announced today do not reach a level that would benefit Florida specialty crop producers at the level that is desperately needed. This is a first step, but much more is needed to ensure that a key driver of Florida’s damaged economy can return to strength.”

“The U.S. potato industry is $4 billion annually with 60 percent 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. The relief package announced today by President Trump and Secretary Perdue provides a very limited and conditioned first injection of $2.7 billion in financial assistance for the fresh produce industry until the economy regains its footing. Clearly, far more will be needed with more reasonable limits.”

“We appreciate the steps taken today, but also must reinforce to Congress that the funds available to agriculture are simply inadequate to keep our industry strong into the future. The programs announced today will limit our ability to reach those who were most impacted by the tragic events around the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stenzel said.

These funds came from the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act passed by Congress on March 29 to support the overall economy. With small business loans being tapped out and other funding inadequate, another financial relief bill is now being considered in Congress.

Details of the fruit and vegetable package include the following:

“Our coalition has begun to work immediately with USDA and our allied partners to ensure that these programs address the most urgent needs for the industry,” said Stenzel. “Also, we’ll continue our push with Congress to allocate the resources needed to support our industry.”

 

 

Index Fresh invites customers to virtual Meeting in the Grove
As businesses and communities cross the six-month mark of working partially or completely from home, creative use of digital communication tools has surged across industries. California-based global avocado marketer Index Fresh has adapted to this model by launching its virtual Meeting in the Grove program to connect its Read More ...
New salad from FiveStar makes debut at Costco
Staying on-trend is one thing, but bringing the freshest seasonal ingredients in a timely manner is another, especially as consumers look for solutions to their “what’s for dinner?” dilemma. FiveStar Gourmet Foods has answered the call with their latest extension to the wildly successful Family Size line of Simply Fresh Salads Read More ...
Kroger announces new SVP of supply chain
The Kroger Co. announced the retirement of Robert Clark, senior vice president of supply chain, manufacturing and enterprise sourcing, after more than 35 years of service, effective Feb. 1, 2021. Clark will be succeeded by Gabriel Arreaga, who is joining The Kroger Co. as senior vice president of supply chain, starting Oct. 1, Read More ...
Progressive Produce brings fresh, nutritious asparagus to dinner tables
With consumers cooking at home more than ever, Progressive Produce is looking forward to working with its partners throughout the supply chain to bring fresh, nutritious asparagus to dinner tables around the country. One of the key things the company plans to do encourage retailers to generate excitement around asparagus on Read More ...
Fox Packaging aquires additional press to increase production
Fox Packaging, an industry leader in flexible packaging innovation, has added an additional UTECO printing press to its dedicated facility. “Expanding our manufacturing capacity is essential to meet growing customer demand and it also presents Fox Packaging with an opportunity to make fast turnaround on large print runs,” said Read More ...
Growers Express names new COO
Growers Express LLC announced that Kirk Wagner is promoted to chief operating officer.    Wagner serves as a member of the executive team, reporting to the board of directors, and working closely with President Tom Byrne and CEO Mark Dendle to set company performance goals, develop and implement strategies, procedures, and Read More ...