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USDA Applauded: Commissioner Fried Speaks on USDA’s Pandemic Assistance

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Nikki Fried
Florida Agriculture Commissioner

Tallahassee, FL — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $6 billion in expanded pandemic assistance on Wednesday. This will aid specialty crop and seasonal produce growers who did not benefit sufficiently from last year’s USDA assistance.

“Florida’s proud farmers, ranchers, and growers have had a tough year, working to overcome half a billion dollars in pandemic-related losses while keeping their workers safe and producing the domestic food supply on which 150 million American families rely. With USDA support last year slow in coming and inconsistent across agricultural sectors, Florida agriculture deeply appreciates this expanded, inclusive approach to federal support,” Fried said. “Our seasonal produce growers have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19 and will benefit from additional specialty crop grant funding. PPE will help keep our farmworkers safe in fields and packing houses. Financial support for new, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers will make our entire $147 billion agriculture industry stronger.”

This funding includes an additional:

  • $100 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
  • $100 million for local and regional agricultural marketing and expansion of direct-to-consumer agriculture
  • $75 million to support new/beginning, socially disadvantaged, and military veteran farmers and ranchers
  • $75 million for efforts to increase fresh fruit and vegetables purchases by low-income consumers
  • $28 million to state departments of agriculture for farm stress/mental health assistance
  • $20 million for improving animal disease prevention and response

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services works to support Florida’s $147 billion agriculture industry, including seasonal produce growers who faced $522 million in pandemic-related losses, and oversees plant and animal disease detection and prevention in Florida.

Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services