Washington, D.C. (May 21, 2020)—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis on all forms of fruits and vegetables as the department develops criteria for food purchases. The call came in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who recently announced that USDA will be making an addition $873.3 million in Section 32 purchases of specialty crops for distribution to food banks.
“We appreciate your tremendous efforts to assist both agricultural producers and struggling families as effects of the pandemic impact communities across the country,” the letter states. “Your announcement regarding additional Section 32 purchases included three criteria the Department would consider when making purchase determinations: industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs. We support these criteria.”
“As USDA conducts its analysis, one dynamic that should not be overlooked is that the COVID-19 market losses in foodservice channels impact growers of both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables,” the letter continues. “As such, we request that your determinations not distinguish between fresh and processed forms of the product, but rather the criteria you have outlined above where the focus is on documented economic losses incurred regardless of the intended market.”
NCFC has long been a leader in efforts to see that federal programs to encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables treat fresh, canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables equitably. These efforts are based on substantial scientific research showing equivalent nutritional benefits of canned frozen or dried fruits and vegetables when compared to fresh.
A copy of the letter is available at: http://ncfc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/NCFC-Letter-to-Perdue-RE-Sec-32-Purchases-FINAL.pdf.
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 2,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.
America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.