Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) issued the following statement after U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Perdue announced adjustments to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) that would make apple and potato producers eligible for direct payments:
"Apples and potatoes are two huge economic drivers for Washington state, and our producers have experienced significant damages," said Rep. Newhouse. "Thank you, Secretary Perdue, for listening to our concerns, making these adjustments, and prioritizing America's agriculture industry during these difficult times."
The list of commodities originally eligible for CFAP payments focused on industries experiencing significant demonstrated losses prior to April 15, 2020. Apples and potatoes, two of Washington state's largest commodities and exports, were not included. USDA's announcement today adjusts payment limits for several Washington commodities and ensures apple and potato producers are eligible for direct payments.
"During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA have stood with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of," said Secretary Perdue. "When we announced this program earlier this year, we asked for public input and received a good response. After reviewing the comments received and analyzing our USDA Market News data, we are adding new commodities, as well as making updates to the program for existing eligible commodities. This is an example of government working for the people -- we asked for input and we updated the program based on the comments we received."
Rep. Newhouse has advocated for Central Washington producers since the CFAP framework was released.
On April 14, Rep. Newhouse led a letter with Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) calling for proportional aid for specialty crop producers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Click here to read the letter.
On April 23, Rep. Newhouse led 126 colleagues in a bipartisan letter to President Trump urging the elimination of payment limits for produce farmers in the CFAP. Click here to read the letter.
On June 23, Rep. Newhouse joined Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in leading a bipartisan letter calling on USDA to include apple growers in pandemic relief efforts. Click here to read the letter.
On July 7, Rep. Newhouse and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) led the Washington state congressional delegation in a letter calling for support of Washington's specialty crops, including apples and potatoes, in the CFAP.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) was created as a result of the CARES Act relief package signed into law on March 27, 2020, to provide direct relief to farmers and ranchers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Find more information on the program by clicking here.
USDA collected comments and supporting data for consideration of additional commodities through June 22, 2020.
Changes to CFAP include:
Adding the following commodities: alfalfa sprouts, anise, arugula, basil, bean sprouts, beets, blackberries, Brussels sprouts, celeriac (celery root), chives, cilantro, coconuts, collard greens, dandelion greens, greens (others not listed separately), guava, kale greens, lettuce -- including Boston, green leaf, Lolla Rossa, oak leaf green, oak leaf red and red leaf -- marjoram, mint, mustard, okra, oregano, parsnips, passion fruit, peas (green), pineapple, pistachios, radicchio, rosemary, sage, savory, sorrel, fresh sugarcane, Swiss chard, thyme and turnip top greens.
Expanding for seven currently eligible commodities -- apples, blueberries, garlic, potatoes, raspberries, tangerines and taro -- CARES Act funding for sales losses because USDA found these commodities had a 5 percent or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for marketing adjustments.
Determining that peaches and rhubarb no longer qualify for payment under the CARES Act sales loss category.
Correcting payment rates for apples, artichokes, asparagus, blueberries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, garlic, kiwifruit, mushrooms, papaya, peaches, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, tangerines and taro.