( The Packer )

No good deed goes unpunished.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture posting of a web seminar on its plan for direct payments to producers wasn’t much appreciated by viewers

A couple of reader comments of The Packer’s article about web seminar:

  • That’s was a seminar? Hmm. The USDA telling me to contact the USDA.
  • This “seminar” was only about 15 minutes long and there was virtually no useful information provided. It was revealed the producers who would be eligible and the forms that have to be filled out, and that was it! If you were looking for information about payment rates and when the payments would be made, you were disappointed, as I was.

Politico reports that the USDA’s plan for direct payments has cleared the Office of Management and Budget , giving the agency the green light to share more details about the program. In retrospect, the agency should have waited for more details about the plan before they raised expectations for answers with the web seminar.

No matter the details of the direct payment program, the agency better brace for some pushback, “Thank you, but......."

What is in your produce box?

The Packer is seeking pictures and descriptions of produce boxes being sent out in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Send your pictures to [email protected] See related story here.

Still no USDA response yet to questions from the industry on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

United Fresh and PMA have sent a letter to the USDA asking them to consider industry input first they make further changes to the program.

Produce companies, according to the letter, are offering to guide the USDA “in any appropriate way to provide background” on:

  • Day-to-day efficiencies in the produce supply chain;
  • Ways in which companies can most cost-effectively deliver fresh produce; and
  • Performance standards that USDA can audit to ensure successful execution.

Of course, the USDA can’t make everyone happy with the food box program. Should growers have gotten a bigger slice? Should the awards have been spread more evenly across the wholesale distributor community? Should food banks have been given the money to source the food box boxes with trusted partners?

Speaking on background, one industry leader said some of the USDA awards were given to “knuckleheads” with no logistical capacity. 

The USDA could not have handled the awards any worse, he contended.

The thorny issue of how an event planning firm without a PACA license was awarded $39 million has gotten plenty of press.

Witness The San Antonio Express News coverage, USDA knocked for ‘unfathomable’ $39M contract awarded to San Antonio event planner.

Why did that unlikely firm (and others) succeed when so many other produce companies tried and failed? Was it because somebody on staff at the event planner had a “way with words” that charmed the USDA? More likely, it was because of professional proposal-writing talent who was hired to write the proposal with zero mistakes.

Check out new COVID-19 reports from IRI on meat consumption and global consumer spending trends.


Other notable links:

USDA: Argentina deciduous  

USDA: South Africa deciduous