Sep 1, 2020
Ag leaders call for CFAP enhancements

As co-chairs of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) — a national coalition of more than 120 specialty crop organizations — the National Potato Council (NPC) joined United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association on a letter sent Aug. 25 to USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey calling for additional enhancements to the department’s COVID relief programs. One of the CEOs’ key recommendations include moving to a “revenue model” that would eliminate some of the hurdles to participation in the current program.

“It is very positive news that Secretary Perdue has announced that a new version of CFAP is coming out in the next few weeks,” said RJ Andrus, NPC VP of Legislative and Government Affairs. “Moving to a simpler model that allows all impacted growers to qualify was, and remains, our original goal.”

While recognizing the positive changes made to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to allow for greater specialty crop participation, group argued that more enhancements are necessary to provide equitable relief for the industry. Since the current CFAP was announced, the specialty crop industry has lagged far behind other commodities in providing relief to impacted growers.

In particular, the group urged USDA to:

  • Simplify CFAP by moving to a “revenue” model that provides relief based on the individual grower’s losses, rather than the current confusing matrix of conditions and payment levels;
  • Expand the CFAP eligibility window to allow for relief for losses incurred after April 15, 2020, the current cut-off date;
  • Increase the payment cap beyond current levels;
  • Better engage with producers, state and local ag departments, and specialty crop trade associations to enhance program signups; and,
  • Provide financial assistance to growers for testing, PPE, and future vaccines or medicines for their farm workers.

The full letter can be found here.

Research progress report released

The USDA/ARS has issued its annual progress report for the 20 projects funded by the State Partnership Potato Research Program during FY19 (Oct. 2018-Sept. 2019). These projects were prioritized by the NPC Research Proposal Sub-committee. Serving on the sub-committee at the time the proposals were review were Peter Imle (Minnesota), Mark Otto (Michigan), Doug Messick (Colorado) and Heath Gimmistad (Washington). Their dedication to the process is greatly appreciated.

In each of the last 20-plus years, Congress has appropriated funds to ARS to help solve specific production and disease problems of the U.S. potato industry. ARS allocates a portion of these funds via non-assistance cooperative agreements for cooperative research with extramural partners in state agricultural experiment stations and other institutions with active potato research programs. Proposals address potato diseases, insect pests, marketing issues and post-harvest disorders of critical concern to potato producing states and the national potato industry. Proposals are normally funded for only one year, but once funded, proposals for second- or third-year funding may be submitted to the program.

The report can be found here.

— National Potato Council


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