( File photo )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to purchase up to $236.6 million of fresh fruits and vegetables through one of three programs designed to help growers affected by tariffs and trade barriers.

Those funds, from the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, along with almost $25 million from the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program for fruit and vegetable growers announced in mid-July, are part of the $16 billion agricultural aid package from the administration to counter what it has called unfair trade practices.

Growers of grapes, cherries and various nuts are also eligible for payments through the third program, the Market Facilitation Program, according to a USDA news release.

 

Food Purchase and Distribution Program

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service purchases surplus commodities through the program, distributing them to schools, food banks and elderly feeding programs.
Fruits and vegetables, along with the amount to be purchased through the program are:

  • Apples, $88 million;
  • Apricots, $100,000;
  • Blueberries, $5 million;
  • Citrus (orange juice, oranges, grapefruit, lemon and limes), $104 million;
  • Figs, $100,000;
  • Onions, $400,000;
  • Pears, $4 million;
  • Plums/prunes, $22 million;
  • Potatoes, $22 million;
  • Strawberries, $2 million; and 
  • Sweet corn, $11 million;

AMS will buy the commodities in four phases, according to the release, after Oct. 1, with deliveries starting in January. 
The USDA plans to ramp up vendor outreach and registration efforts, and will host web seminars on how to become an approved vendor in the program.

“AMS will also work with industry groups to identify varieties and grades sold to China and other markets imposing retaliatory tariffs, such as premium apples, oranges, pears, and other products,” according to the release. “AMS will develop or revise specifications to facilitate the purchase of these premium varieties in forms that meet the needs of … nutrition assistance programs.”

 

Market Facilitation Program

MFP payments will be made to growers of table grapes, cherries, cranberries, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Each specialty crop will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of fruit or nut bearing plants, according to the release.

Participation is through local Farm Service Agency offices starting July 29, and will be open through Dec. 6. More information is available at the Federal Register. State per acre payment rates by specific commodity will be posted to FSA's website www.fsa.usda.gov.

The MFP payments will be in up to three tranches, with the first payments in mid- to late August. Payments to specialty crop producers are limited to a combined $250,000, according to the release.

 

Agricultural Trade Promotion

The USDA announced a second round of Agricultural Trade Promotion recipients in mid-July, with almost $25 million allocated to help promote fruits and vegetables in export markets.

Those groups are:

  • California Cherry Marketing and Research Board: $300,000;
  • California Fresh Fruit Association: $262,435;
  • California Strawberry Commission: $407,000;
  • California Table Grape Commission: $3.1 million;
  • Cranberry Marketing Committee: $2 million;
  • National Potato Promotion Board (Potatoes USA): $1.46 million;
  • Pear Bureau Northwest: $1.54 million;
  • U.S. Apple Export Council: $5,485;
  • U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council: $350,000;
  • Washington Apple Commission: $1.5 million; and
  • Washington State Fruit Commission: $456,297.

Groups representing tree nuts will receive $7.5 million and dried fruit groups are allocated $2.7 million. The Organic Trade Association is set to receive $580,000. U.S. regional trade associations that promote agricultural products for export, including fresh fruits and vegetables, are also recipients of the ATP funds.

For the full list of Agricultural Trade Promotion fund recipients, visit the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service website.

 

 
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