WASHINGTON (August 7, 2020)- In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Chair Stacey E. Plaskett, and the Democratic Members of the Subcommittee expressed concern about the inadequacies of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) in providing critical support to the specialty crop industry.
In the letter, the lawmakers noted, “The direct payment program under CFAP has failed to provide equitable relief to the specialty crop sector. As of August 3, 2020, USDA had provided over $6.8 billion in direct payments to domestic farmers and ranchers. Out of that total, only $270 million has been provided to specialty crop producers, representing less than four percent of overall assistance. These funds have been particularly difficult to access for specialty crop farmers who are young, socially disadvantaged, or rely on local markets with diversified production practices. Additionally, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has been difficult to access for limited resource specialty crop farmers who often struggle to obtain the required food safety audits.”
To remedy these issues, Subcommittee Members requested, “USDA must do more to assist the specialty crop sector, particularly those farmers who are young, socially disadvantaged, or sell into local markets. The small share of Federal funds flowing to specialty crop producers highlights the critical need for USDA to conduct immediate and targeted outreach to specialty crop stakeholders ahead of CFAP’s August 28, 2020 deadline. Additionally, USDA must commit to work with small- and medium-sized producers to ensure that all aspects of the CFAP initiative are accessible, including the FFFBP.”
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
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