On Monday, March 30, WG joined more than 75 allied produce organizations in issuing a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue calling on USDA to develop a market stabilization plan for the industry with allocated funding from the stimulus package. Specifically, the letter proposes the agency take the following actions:
- USDA should move to aggregate all data on losses by PACA licensees dues to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- USDA should immediately act to develop a disbursement plan to pay grower-shippers for debts identified from PACA licensees and customers along with other contractual obligations that cannot be repaid due to the collapse of the foodservice sector.
- Development of a plan for USDA to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for federal feeding programs. In so doing USDA should immediately “step into the shoes” of schools that have canceled contracts.
- As we seek to quantify the full international trade impacts of this global crisis, USDA should be prepared to create a program that assists producers with respect to lost international markets.
- Use of all resources at USDA’s discretion, including carryover funds from the previous fiscal year, must be part of the solution to address the immediate needs of the specialty crop industry.
The signatories note that these are our initial ideas to help reduce the financial devastation from the crisis, and that other needs may emerge as the crisis continues to evolve.
Click here to read the full letter.