April 7, 2020

Congressman Panetta, 108 House Members Call on USDA to Provide Direct Support to Specialty Crop Producers

Today a bipartisan group of 108 members of the U.S. House of Representatives – led by Congressmen Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Jim Costa (CA-16) and Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) – sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue echoing the Produce Market Stabilization Program proposal presented by a coalition of produce organizations from across the country.

The letter calls on the Administration to provide direct support to specialty crop producers as part of the recently-enacted CARES Act, which includes more than $23 billion earmarked for agriculture – $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation and $9.5 billion for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19.

In the letter, the Members stated: “We are very pleased that specialty crop producers have been specifically included in this relief package. These producers are experiencing significant losses, with more losses expected in the coming days, weeks, and potentially months. Now, as you make decisions regarding how best to allocate CARES Act funding, we request that you reserve funding to develop and execute a recovery and relief plan for the specialty crop industry.”

The letter outlines the three elements included in the Produce Market Stabilization Program:

  1. Fresh Produce Purchases: Funding and guidance for USDA purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables, including purchases for federal nutrition programs.
  2. Direct Payments to Specialty Crop Producers: Direct payments to specialty crop producers impacted by lost sales or other financial losses due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  3. Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act: PACA assistance and flexibility.

Of the 108 members, 23 represent Western Growers’ four home states:

  • Rep. Jimmy Panetta – CA (letter lead)
  • Rep. Jim Costa – CA (letter lead)
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa – CA (letter lead)
  • Rep. Ami Bera – CA
  • Rep. Julia Brownley – CA
  • Rep. Salud Carbajal – CA
  • Rep. Tony Cardenas – CA
  • Rep. TJ Cox – CA
  • Rep. Jason Crow – CO
  • Rep. John Garamendi – CA
  • Rep Josh Harder – CA
  • Rep. Jared Huffman – CA
  • Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick – AZ
  • Rep. Barbara Lee – CA
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren – CA
  • Rep. Doris Matsui – CA
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney – CA
  • Rep. Raul Ruiz MD – CA
  • Rep. Xochitl Torres Small – NM
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell – CA
  • Rep. Mike Thompson – CA
  • Rep. Scott Tipton – CO
  • Rep. Juan Vargas – CA

Click here to read the full letter.