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A MESSAGE FROM TOM STENZEL ON CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19

Mar 25, 2020

March 25, 2020; 6:30 pm EDT/3:30 pm PDT

Dear Produce Industry Member:

Thank you for your continuing to efforts to keep our food supply moving. As I’ve said before, our dual priority at United Fresh is to assist you in every way to achieve that goal, and concurrently, to drive financial relief for those sectors of our industry that have been devastated by this crisis.

Tonight, I want to focus on the emergency relief package that is progressing toward final agreement in Washington, DC. While not a done deal until final passage by the House and Senate with the President’s signature, the basic agreement reached is essential to shoring up companies throughout our supply chain that have been hit the hardest by the shutdown of the out-of-home foodservice channel. That includes growers, shippers and distributors alike.

United Fresh has pushed Congress and USDA to support an emergency market stabilization and recovery program. We are pleased to report the following elements of the agreed-upon legislation that will be of help to different industry members in many different ways: 

  • Emergency COVID-19 Funding — $9.5 billion under emergency declaration to support agriculture industries impacted by COVID-19, including fruit and vegetable producers, livestock producers, and producers focused on local food systems.

 

  • Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) — $14 billion to replenish the CCC borrowing authority. Along with current CCC funding, which is at $8.5 billion, this would allow USDA to utilize up to $22.5 billion in CCC related activities, such as Market Facilitation Payments and directing funds to Section 32 for produce purchases.

 

  • Child Nutrition Programs –$8.8 billion of broad authority to USDA to support programs like school meals, Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP), summer meals, and WIC, including increasing enrollment, food purchases and pilot projects.

 

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — $15.5 billion to cover increase in participation due to unemployment.

 

  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – $450 million for the distribution of emergency food assistance through community partners, including food banks. Of this amount, $250 million is to purchase commodities, and $150 million is for costs associated with storing and distributing those commodities.

 

  • Small Business Paycheck Protection Program — $350 billion for new SBA Loan Program for businesses with no more than 500 employees. If business has more than one location, allows for each location to have no more than 500 employees.  Loans can be used for the following: payroll and benefits; mortgage interest payments (excluding principal and excluding pre-payments); rent; utilities; and interest payment on other debts. 

 

  • Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) — $562 million in additional funding for EIDL available to businesses with no more than 500 employees, including emergency grants up to $10,000 to cover emergency expenses directly related to COVID-19, such as paid sick leave for employees directly affected by COVID-19, payroll to retain employees during business disruptions or substantial slowdowns, meeting increased costs to supply the supply chain, and paying obligations that cannot be met due to lost revenue. 

 

Together, these programs can go a long way to helping our country – and our industry – survive to continue our every-day job of feeding America.

We urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives to support this legislation, and get it to the President’s desk immediately!

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