The United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA), on behalf of its 1,500 member companies that make up the full fresh produce supply chain, this week requested urgent action by Congress to mitigate the challenges facing the sectors most impacted by the national emergency caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
UFPA members include growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations.
The association said the immediate impact to the fresh produce supply chain includes:
- $5 billion for exposure for lost inventory and risk to growers
- $1 billion a week in lost sales
- Tens of thousands employee furloughed
In a March 21 letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Schumer—and a similar letter to USDA Secretary Perdue—UFPA requested Congress and USDA consider its recommendations to specially address the food and agriculture community during this COVID-19 crisis.
Among many specific sector relief requests, UFPA urged Congress to:
- Establish a $1 billion fund—and UFPA’s most recent intelligence suggests the industry may need up to $5 billion—for addressing claims filed by food service distributors who have outstanding expenditures to grower-shippers. Based on submission and verification of these claims by food service distributors, the fund would allow USDA to reimburse grower-shippers directly based on these approved claims.
- Immediately make an additional $1 billion available under DoD Fresh and USDA Vendor Program to help meet the needs of schools and all emergency feeding sites that are experiencing increased demand. Notably, DoD Fresh prime vendors and fresh produce vendors are primarily small businesses that face a unique set of challenges when disruption hits. UFPA urges Congress and USDA to take advantage of the opportunity to utilize this existing supply chain capability to meet the needs of schools, food banks and other emergency feeding sites that are scrambling to meet the unprecedented needs of their communities, while ensuring these businesses can continue to provide employment for their workers and be in business when schools return.
- Provide $225 million funding for the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to accommodate a temporary increase to the cash-value voucher benefits.
To take action and urge members of Congress to support relief for the fresh produce supply chain, visit unitedfreshproduce.ac360.aristotleactioncenter.com.