On Monday, March 23rd, Western Growers joined a coalition of more than 40 regional and national associations in urging USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to quickly begin purchasing commodities sitting stagnant in the supply chain as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The letter estimates that there is at least $1 billion worth of perishable commodities without a dedicated destination as a result of foodservice closures, such as restaurants, hotels, schools and universities. While many companies are already donating to food banks and others in need, without additional funding, much of this food will be left in the facilities to rot.
Signatories to the letter ask Secretary Perdue to utilize all purchasing authority options – including Section 32, DOD Fresh and the Food Purchase and Distribution Program – to procure existing foodservice inventory of fresh produce to be redirected to feeding programs for food insecure Americans.
Click here for the full industry letter to USDA.
Representatives Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) and Jim Costa (CA-16) followed suit, headlining a bipartisan letter from 27 Members of Congress to Secretary Perdue urging him to provide “both regulatory flexibility and direct support to the specialty crop industry.”
Specifically, the letter seeks a commitment from USDA to “purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for federal nutrition programs,” along with “direct support to specialty crop producers whose customers are now unable to fulfill their previous purchase commitments due to the current crisis.”
Click here to the full Congressional letter to USDA.