Apples now included USDA's Covid-19 assistance program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has added apples to its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), after having controversially left the fruit off the original list of produce items to receive financial relief amid price declines.
The U.S. Apple Association is "extremely pleased" with the news that the USDA will be award apple growers a payment rate of $0.05 per pound.
“Many apple growers are hanging on by their fingernails, so USDA’s decision is great news and not a moment too soon,” said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair.
“Growers usually take the risks of weather and markets in stride, but the impact of COVID-19 pushed many right to the edge. We thank and congratulate USDA for this welcome news.”
Last month, USApple, joined by apple organizations across the nation, urged USDA to reconsider growers for CFAP funding. According to the groups, USDA’s analysis that determined apple prices and grower eligibility was flawed and did not match the reality of what is happening in the industry.
USApple submitted more than 30 pages to USDA detailing actual sales data on more than 43 million bushels of apples, more than half of all the apples marketed in the three-month period.
The various data sets showed price declines ranging from 6.5 percent to 24.9 percent. USDA’s threshold for payment eligibility is a price decline of at least 5 percent; it now agrees that the average price decline was 10.9 percent.
“The successful outcome was a team effort, with the overwhelming price data coming from USApple leaders and the Washing State Tree Fruit Association,” said Bair.
“Those groups, plus Northwest Horticultural Council and state apple associations across the U.S. formed an effective coalition.”
Click here to read USApple’s letter and supporting data sent to USDA last month.