(FDACS) — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried sent letters to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and Florida’s congressional delegation urging further action to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on Florida’s agriculture industry.
In the letters, Fried shared the Florida Seasonal Crop COVID-19 Impact Assessment released this week which projects losses for Florida agriculture upwards of $522 million. The USDA recently announced its $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, of which $2.1 billion is aimed at seasonal crop producers.
“While USDA’s coronavirus relief programs were welcome news for America’s agricultural producers, I fear it is too little too late for Florida farmers,” said Commissioner Fried. “There are serious concerns over payment caps that cover just a small fraction of losses our producers have already experienced. For weeks, we have called for immediate federal purchases to help our fresh fruit and vegetable producers mitigate these losses, but the purchases coming now may be too late in the season for Florida farmers to benefit. I urge Secretary Perdue and our Congressional leaders to step up, do more, and make sure our farmers aren’t left behind in this unprecedented time.”
In addition to repeated asks for federal assistance from the USDA and Congress, Commissioner Fried has also raised concerns regarding recent USDA actions on Country of Origin Labeling requirements and allowing the import of Chinese citrus, compounding the hardships facing Florida producers during COVID-19 by allowing more foreign competition into the domestic market.
Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services