On April 17, the U.S. secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue announced $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.
“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.
Mike Joyner, president of Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association said that the state’s specialty crop growers have suffered more than $520 million in losses for this season.
The U.S. potato industry, worth $4 billion annually, has been hit hard because 60 per cent of that business is directed towards food service.
Details of the fruit and vegetable package include the following:
- $2.1 billion in payments to growers and grower-shippers of fresh produce for demonstrated losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a commitment to relieve the debts of PACA-licensed buyers for losses covered by government payments.
- $100 million/month for the next six months in a new “Buy Fresh” program funded through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in which the federal government will purchase fresh produce and pay for its delivery to food banks, curb-side school pick-up sites, and other non-profit institutions.
Source: United Fresh April 17, 2020 news release