Florida’s fruit and vegetable (FFVA) growers were big winners in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision last week to amend certain commodities to the list covered under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
FFVA President Mike Joyner said almost half of the commodities that his organization petitioned the USDA for were accepted.
“We’re pleased with the decisions that the USDA made. We submitted 29 additional crops for consideration in that NOFA (Notice of Funding Availability), 29 additional crops, working with our members and 13 were approved,” Joyner said. “But we understand that there’s going to be a second round of decisions that are going to be made. We don’t know if those that we didn’t get a decision on, we don’t know if they looked at those and rejected them. Our hope is that this will be in the second phase. I think as important as that, the decision that the USDA made to include blueberries in column one was a big decision.”
According to the prior VSCNews story, blueberries were one of seven eligible commodities added to Category 1 of CFAP. According to the USDA press release, the USDA found these commodities had a 5% or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for marketing adjustments, which Florida blueberry farmer Ryan Atwood believes would not have helped growers like himself at all.
“Not many individuals qualified for 2 or 3. But everyone in Florida is going to qualify, just about for Category 1. That’s why it is a big deal,” Atwood said.
According to https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/specialty, eligible specialty crops in CFAP are broken down into three categories:
- Had crops that suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
- Had produce shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel, and
- Had shipments that did not leave the farm or mature crops that remained unharvested.