Washington, D.C. —The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) urged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic support all producers of fruits and vegetables in efforts to offset economic impacts to the specialty crop sector. The call came in a letter that the organization sent to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“Fruits and vegetables are an integral part of the recommended diet by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and unfortunately one of the most under consumed categories. To help meet these nutritional needs, the DGA encourages consumption of all forms of fruits and vegetables: fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. Fruits and vegetables also are critical in supporting healthy immune systems, which is more important now as ever,” the letter states. “As such, we ask that a USDA response to the COVID-19 pandemic not distinguish between fresh and processed forms of the product in terms of economic assistance for the specialty crop sector. Instead, the focus should be on documented economic losses incurred regardless of the intended market.”
NCFC further urged that funding for food purchases for food banks and emergency feeding programs be allocated based on recipient need and avoid prioritizing specific products.
“We stand ready to work with you and your team on the process of estimating financial losses and impacts across the sector to ensure support is provided where needed,” the letter concluded. “We can and will have a vibrant and robust U.S. agricultural industry long after we defeat this virus.”