On March 31, NPC joined national and local agriculture organizations on a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack advocating for additional support for food and agricultural businesses as they continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the letter, the group strongly encourages USDA to consider standing up and funding the following recommended priority areas:
- COVID Worker Safety Program: $1 billion to assist growers and food producers who have incurred substantial worker safety costs during 2020 and face additional costs in 2021.
- Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Revisions: Reopen the CFAP application approval process and revise the program to allow for the inclusions of a producer’s 2019 sales as an approximation of the amount of what the producer would expect to market in 2020. This would provide a more accurate picture of the losses incurred by fresh produce farmers.
- Specialty Crop Block Grants: Ensure the $100 million in funding appropriated by Congress through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is thought of as separate and distinct from the traditional specialty crop block grant funding unrelated to the COVID pandemic.
- Supply Chain Resiliency: USDA should consider establishing grants that may be used for purposes like expanding workforce-related infrastructure, retooling or expanding processing lines, converting industrial-sized products to consumer-sized products, and acquiring temporary storage, equipment, or transportation services.