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COVID-19/Coronavirus Media Coverage

USDA responds to United Fresh’s food box program questions

May 21, 2020 | Blue Book Services

Statement from Tom Stenzel, United Fresh President & CEO, regarding USDA response:

“We greatly appreciate the serious commitment to oversight that USDA has shared in response to our letter of May 11 regarding the Farmers to Families Food Box program. This innovative program was set up in record time to provide a win-win-win opportunity for farmers, produce distributors who were devastated by the collapse of the foodservice business, and most importantly, those in most need in our communities across the country.”

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U.S. Specialty Crop Industry Reacts to USDA Direct Payment Plan

May 19, 2020 | And Now U Know

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will provide up to $2.1 billion in direct payments to growers of specialty crops as part of the $16 billion aid provided under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) included in the CARES Act. Upon the announcement of this addition to the USDA’s direct payment program for farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19, many of the organizations representing specialty crop producers celebrated this latest effort.

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Wedding Planner, Caterer, “Brand Builder”: Trump’s Food Aid Program Is Paying $100+ Million to Unlicensed Dealers

May 11, 2020 | ProPublica

A food relief program championed by President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka is relying on some contractors who lack food distribution experience and aren’t licensed to deal in fresh fruits and vegetables. Contractors with no experience in food distribution are looking for suppliers on Facebook while some food banks scramble to find desperately needed deliveries.

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New foodservice report covers how operators are adapting amid COVID-19

May 11, 2020 | The Packer

The newest Fresh Insights for Foodservice report from the United Fresh Produce Association features baby lettuces, acorn squash, grapes and more, plus a section on how foodservice operators have been adapting their business models in light of COVID-19.

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Business groups call on Pence to improve federal guidance for worker safety

May 7, 2020 | The Hill

Industry groups that represent food, agriculture and consumer packaged goods are urging the federal government to improve its coordination and provide specific guidance on worker safety and supply chain reliability as businesses prepare to reopen.

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Produce industry informs Congress on pandemic safety measures

May 6, 2020 | The Packer

As some Democratic lawmakers push for new legislative protections for farm workers, more than 60 specialty crop organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders highlighting efforts by growers and other agricultural employers to protect their labor force during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Bill introduced to drastically increase WIC fresh produce voucher value

May 6, 2020 | Blue Book Services

United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458 applauds the introduction of the WIC Benefit Flexibility During COVID-19 Act which will increase the cash value benefit for fruits and vegetables in the Women, Infants, and Children’s program (WIC) to $35 month through the end of September 2020.

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New Farmers to Families program to spend $100 million per month on fresh produce procurement

May 4, 2020 | FreshPlaza

A month and a half ago, Tom Stenzel, United Fresh’s CEO, sent a letter to the USDA in which he asked Secretary Purdue “to ensure that fresh produce currently in the supply chain is making its way to those who need it most.”

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“Buy Fresh” USDA Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program (CFAP) Announcement of Solicitation

April 27, 2020 | Perishable News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) released its solicitation for proposals for the “Buy Fresh” Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program (CFAP) to purchase and distribute $100 million a month of fresh fruit and vegetables for approximately six months. USDA will award contracts for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables, the assembly of commodity boxes, and delivery to identified food banks, food pantries, churches, schools, community groups, and other non-profit and governmental organizations that can receive and distribute food items.

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Senators Urge President Trump to Address Payment Limits for Farmers and Ranchers

April 24, 2020 | Market Screener

U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to President Trump urging him to eliminate payment limits for livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

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Robert Guenther and Mollie Van Lieu on USDA’s Buy Fresh program

April 22, 2020 | Blue Book Services

The newly announced $100-million-per-month USDA Buy Fresh program offers produce companies a way to sell product for government feeding programs. The United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458 said USDA told them the requests for proposals will open April 24; proposals are due back to USDA May 1; awards will be announced May 8; and deliveries will begin May 15.

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USDA’s ‘Buy Fresh’ Produce Purchasing Effort To Provide $100 Million Monthly For Distributors

April 22, 2020 | Southeast Produce Weekly

USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service on April 21 shared the details of the new “Buy Fresh” program to purchase $100 million per month in fresh produce from regional and local distributors whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities.

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Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program Empowers Fresh Produce

April 22, 2020 | Blue Book Services

This week, the USDA-AMS approved funding for the Coronovirus Farm Assistance Program for $100 million per month. What does that mean for fresh produce? It means fruit and vegetables will be distributed into pre-portioned boxes. And then they will be deployed to community feeding and hunger relief programs through the United States.

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Robert Guenther looks at USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

April 21, 2020 | The Packer

With $2.7 billion targeted to the fruit and vegetable industry, the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program was unveiled by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on April 17. Of the $2.7 billion, $2.1 billion will be direct payments. The remaining $600 million will be for produce purchases over the next six months. Industry leaders, who had estimated industry losses at more than $5 billion and growing on March 23, said the aid was appreciated but not enough.

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Fruit and vegetable industry targeted for $2.7 billion in financial relief

April 20, 2020 | FreshPlaza

On April 18th, the United States President and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced some $2.7 billion in financial support targeted to the fruit and vegetable industry in response to the overwhelming losses from the COVID-19 emergency. That support is divided with $2.1 billion allocated for direct payment to growers, and $100 million per month for the next six months in produce purchases.

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School association and United Fresh to help students get produce

April 16, 2020 | The Packer

The School Nutrition Association and the United Fresh Produce Association are partnering to connect produce distributors with school foodservice directors looking for single-serve, wrapped produce as part of meal distributions.

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UNITED IN ACTION: Market Stabilization Fund Proposed Along With Three Relief Programs

April 15, 2020 | Produce Business

In early March, no one saw the devastation that was about to over- take the fresh produce supply chain, let alone our world. Overnight, large parts of the industry were dried up – the supply chain stopped as restaurants closed, schools shut down, and local governments mandated “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders for cities and entire states across the country. Despite this unprecedented challenge, members of the fresh produce supply chain have worked to keep the supply chain moving and keep Americans fed.

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Shop Talk: Two Horticulture Industry Leaders Talk Frankly About COVID-19

April 13, 2020 | Greenhouse Grower

In a Greenhouse Grower exclusive “Shop Talk” video, AmericanHort President and CEO Ken Fisher and United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel recently sat down to discuss what they are hearing from growers and supply partners across their industries. They also highlight some of the tools and resources available to their members, the status of upcoming events, and what members of two similar but unique industries can learn from each other.

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With Restaurants Reeling, Produce Farmers Seek Reason to Harvest

April 13, 2020 | Bloomberg Law

Grocers are struggling to keep shelves stocked during the coronavirus pandemic, so it might not make sense that farmers are dumping unsold milk and letting produce rot in the field because they have nowhere to sell it.

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Congress, produce leaders seek relief for supply chain

April 8, 2020 | The Produce News

United Fresh Produce Association and a number of industry partners have presented to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a comprehensive Produce Market Stabilization Program to immediately support critical financial needs in the produce supply chain. In addition, 108 members of Congress have sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging USDA to support this immediate relief.

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Lawmakers, industry leaders, lobby for produce relief program

April 7, 2020 | The Packer

The Packer’s Tom Karst visited April 7 with Robert Guenther senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh Produce Association and Michael Muzyk, president of Baldor Specialty Foods and chairman of the United Fresh about the significance of the Produce Market Stabilization Program to the industry. 

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What to expect in Washington, DC this week

April 7, 2020 | Blue Book Services

The United Fresh Produce Association continues to work with leaders in Washington, DC, to get the economic stimulus money into the hands of produce businesses that need it. The association has its eye on a number of other issues, says Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy.

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United Fresh Produce Association Touts Paycheck Protection Program

April 6, 2020 | And Now U Know

The United Fresh Produce Association is utilizing its resources to provide the ag community with all information necessary to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest measures that can protect their operations.

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United Fresh Foundation grants fund donations during crisis

April 6, 2020 | The Packer

The United Fresh Start Foundation has started a new program to increase access to fresh produce for children and families, while creating opportunities for foodservice distributors during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program Begins

April 3, 2020 | Blue Book Services

The Small Business Administration’s $350 Billion New SBA 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program is due to go into effect. Beginning April 3, small businesses under 500 employees and sole proprietorships can apply.

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Food industry releases response guidelines for COVID-19 employees

April 3, 2020 | The Packer

Members of the Food and Beverage Issues Alliance have collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration on guidelines for food companies to follow if an employee or customer tests positive for COVID-19.

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US agriculture groups urge USDA to act to stabilize markets

April 1, 2020 | FreshPlaza

Following the passage of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) stimulus package, a coalition of agriculture groups drew up a letter to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take further actions to help stabilize markets affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

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What happens to our food supply if American farmers can’t farm?

March 31, 2020 | CNN Business

The coronavirus pandemic is posing a threat to their livelihoods, as it is for many others across the globe. But unlike some shelf-stable goods producers, farmers have very little flexibility. They’re on a strict planting and harvesting schedule and cannot ramp up or decrease production at will.

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United Fresh comments on the $2 Trillion CARES Act passage

March 30, 2020 | And Now U Know

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was officially passed and signed late Friday. The move, which is being called a historic one to offer aid amidst COVID-19, includes upward of $9.5 billion for the ag industry.

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United Fresh’s Tom Stenzel on the produce industry’s rapid shift amid COVID-19

March 30, 2020 | Blue Book Services

The world as we know it has dramatically changed over the past few weeks, and the fresh produce supply chain has had to adapt. Tom Stenzel, CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, outlines some of the drastic steps taken, and next steps forward for the fresh produce industry in this update from Washington, D.C.

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Congress’ relief money another ‘unprecedented’ aid package for farmers

March 30, 2020 | Politico

The administration for the third year in a row will infuse an unprecedented amount of money into the farm economy after Congress authorized more than $23 billion as part of the just-enacted stimulus package to blunt the economic harm caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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US agriculture shines in fight against pandemic

March 30, 2020 | Agri-Pulse

For all of you working on farms and ranches, you realize that the important work of producing food and feeding people never stops. It’s the same pattern for those in our packing plants, our truckers, our food workers and everyone along the supply chain from farm to fork.

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NGA, United Fresh Help Independent Grocers Procure Produce

March 26, 2020 | Progressive Grocer

The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade organization representing the independent grocery sector, and the United Fresh Produce Association have joined forces to connect produce distributors to retailers.

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What to Do If a Food Industry Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

March 26, 2020 | Greenhouse Grower

The United Fresh Produce Association continues to update the industry, which includes greenhouse vegetable growers, on how to keep their businesses moving forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Winners and Losers in Congress’s $2 Trillion Virus Rescue Plan

March 26, 2020 | Washington Post

Days of negotiations between the Trump administration and Congress — and fierce lobbying by industries eager for assistance dealing with the coronavirus outbreak — has yielded a rescue package worth more than $2 trillion in spending and tax breaks. It was passed by the U.S. Senate late Wednesday night.

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Daybreak March 25: USDA expected to fund multiple aid programs

March 25, 2020 | Agri-Pulse

A leading architect of the ag programs in the $2 trillion economic stimulus package says he expects USDA could use the funding it gets through the bill to provide several forms of relief to producers beyond a new Market Facilitation Program.

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NGA, United Fresh partner to maintain fresh produce supply

March 25, 2020 | Supermarket News

To help ensure coronavirus-triggered supply disruptions don’t prevent fresh fruit and vegetables from getting to supermarkets, the National Grocers Association (NGA) and the United Fresh Produce Association have teamed up to link produce distributors with retailers.

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United Fresh Estimates US $5B loss for fresh produce industry from COVID-19 outbreak

March 24, 2020 | Fresh Fruit Portal

United Fresh Produce Association has estimated the industry will take a US $5bn hit from the CPVID-19 outbreak, in addition to billions of dollars in lost sales.

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Foodservice suppliers adjust to disaster

March 24, 2020 | Blue Book Services

Foodservice, including restaurants, schools and institutions, represent 40-50 percent of fresh produce sales, and sales are down so much that Mark Allen, president and CEO of the International Food Service Distributors and Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, sent a letter to Congressional and White House leaders requesting a recovery fund.

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FDA Offers Assurance About Food Safety and Supply for People and Animals During COVID-19

March 24, 2020 | FDA

A critical part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s mission is safeguarding the human and animal food supply, helping to ensure that our food is not contaminated at any point during its journey along the supply chain.

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United Fresh Urges Congress to Take Immediate Action in Response to COVID-19 Challenges

March 23, 2020 | And Now U Know

As we continue to navigate the pressures of today’s market, the United Fresh Produce Association is stepping up to advocate for solutions for the fresh produce industry. Specifically, the association has requested urgent action by Congress to mitigate the challenges facing the sectors that have been impacted most by the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Industry trade groups work together to fill gaps, create economic stability as COVID-19 spreads

March 23, 2020 | Food Navigator

An ad-hoc partnership between FMI-Food Industry Association, the International Foodservice Distributors Association, United Produce Association and National Fisheries Institute aims to help overwhelmed grocery retailers keep shelves stocked, stores clean and employees safe in the coming weeks while also providing economic stability as foodservice distributors see business dry up unexpectedly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Study Reveals Critical Role of Food & Ag Sectors In Feeding The Economy

March 23, 2020 | PR Newswire

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has served as a reminder of the critical role that the United States food and agriculture industries play in fueling our nation and ensuring that Americans are supplied with an abundance of safe food during this time of need. America’s food and agricultural industry is committed to helping the country get through the COVID-19 pandemic. A new nationwide economic impact study, commissioned by 21 food and agriculture groups reinforces the significance of these industries as critical to day-to-day American life.

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United Fresh works to ensure food supply chain classified as essential to the country’s critical infrastructure

March 23, 2020 | HortiDaily

United Fresh President Tom Stenzel shared the association has now achieved one of their most immediate priorities: workers throughout the food supply chain have been classified as essential to the country’s critical infrastructure.

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A Very Dangerous Time in the Foodservice Sector

March 20, 2020 | Winsight Grocery Business

As coronavirus concerns lead a growing number of local governments to shut down restaurants and retail foodservice operations to everything but takeout orders, a sobering reality has emerged.

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United Fresh offers important financial protection info to safeguard produce industry

March 20, 2020 | The Produce News

One of the most important regulations supporting the fresh produce trade is the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, and especially the PACA Trust. The PACA trust enables produce sellers to have first priority for repayment of debts in the event of a customer’s bankruptcy.

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United Fresh applauds USDA, DOL announcement of information sharing to assist H-2A employers

March 20, 2020 | Perishable News

United Fresh applauds the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Labor for responding to our urgent requests to provide flexibility for U.S. farmers utilizing the H-2A program. United Fresh and industry stakeholders have been pressing the Administration throughout this crisis to address this issue and ensure that workers are available for produce companies who need H-2A and H-2B workers.

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United Fresh Seeks Government Support for the Foodservice Distribution Sector

March 19, 2020 | And Now U Know

In a recent letter from Tom Stenzel, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Fresh Produce Association, the association announced that it has been working with other trade organizations throughout DC to ensure elected officials and government agencies are taking our industry’s needs into consideration as they make critical decisions that will impact our supply chain.

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Perdue intervenes on Mexican worker visas, earns United Fresh praise

March 18, 2020 | The Fence Post

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue intervened with the State Department on Tuesday to minimize disruption in the H2A visa application process after state announced the U.S. embassy and consulates in the Mexico would stop processing immigrant and non-immigrant visas today, a USDA spokesperson confirmed.

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