With coronavirus weakening the economy, on Tuesday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue, calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help quickly distribute perishable crops from the Sunshine State through federal food programs.
Fried urged Perdue to use crops from Florida for “food banks, school meal programs and other federal food purchase programs” to distribute.
“With many restaurants and food service establishments closed, Florida agricultural producers are facing a sudden market decline for fresh commodities ready to be harvested such as tomatoes, green beans, and peppers, in which Florida leads the nation in production,” Fried’s office noted.
Fried noted that Congress recently passed a $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package which includes $9 billion for federal feeding programs, including the USDA’s Food Purchase Program. Fried also pointed out that the package contains $9.5 billion to help agriculture and urged Perdue to send some of those funds to the Sunshine State.
“I applaud our farmers and producers who have shown unbelievable resilience as they continue to work day in and day out to feed our communities during this trying time. Now, we must make sure our farmers, who are also struggling in the current market even as they continue to provide for others, are not left behind and food is not left to waste,” Fried wrote Perdue.
Fried also sent the letter to members of the Florida congressional delegation.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.