The United Fresh Produce Association with a number of industry partners on Tuesday presented the US Department of Agriculture with a comprehensive Produce Market Stabilization Program to immediately support critical financial needs in the produce supply chain.
In a daily update, UFPA President and CEO Tom Stenzel, said, “Industry members from across the supply chain have been helping estimate losses and define where immediate assistance is most needed. They’ve also been critical in helping us understand the intricacies of our supply chain; how the entire chain can be affected by the shutdown of the restaurant and hospitality industry almost overnight; and the weaknesses becoming apparent every day in our ability to keep the food supply chain moving.”
He continued, “Ours is not a supply chain that can pause – when we harvest today, that product starts a journey that ends up being consumed usually in just a couple weeks. But disruptions to demand at the end of that journey create financial impact everywhere along the chain from field to table. Whether it’s lost inventory along the supply chain or crops left in the field, the impact is shared. And that’s to say nothing about future lost sales.”
About 85 different produce organizations are participating along with members of Congress, he said.
Some 108 members of Congress sent their own bipartisan letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging USDA’s support this effort.
Stenzel calls out Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) for leading the Congressional effort.
“The first step in this process was encouraging Congress to pass the CARES Act devoting $2 trillion to the economy and some $9.5 billion specifically carved out for fruits and vegetables, livestock, dairy and local food systems,” Stenzel wrote. “Now comes this urgent proposal with a road map of how USDA can support our industry immediately. Next will come deep discussions and analysis within USDA about channeling resources to multiple interests. And eventually, we believe there will have to be continuing additional financial relief from Congress if our economy is going to be able to pull out of this crisis and grow again.”
To read the comprehensive plan, visit the UFPA website.