Potato crops in the US are now eligible for direct payments to growers for sales losses in the $2.1 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funds for specialty crops.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) added potatoes to the list of commodities in its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), stating that the product is eligible for sales loss payments, known as Category 1 commodities. To qualify for Category 1, data must show the crop lost a minimum of 5% of its value during a three-month period.
“Additional review is ongoing, which will result in a subsequent announcement,” an USDA statement revealed.
Potatoes were added as an eligible commodity in response to data submitted by the industry.
Original prices used by USDA to determine eligibility were for table stock fresh potatoes and not for processing or seed potatoes.
“The industry data shows that seed potatoes had a 15% price decline and fresh retail and foodservice potatoes had a 6.7% price decline over the rule stated period,” USDA stated in the Federal Register notice.
National Potato Council president Britt Raybould said in a statement: “The potato industry appreciates the rapid work of USDA in considering these changes and making potatoes eligible for all three categories of payments. We believe the economic justification submitted by the industry strongly supports the meaningful inclusion of potatoes in this relief program, given the devastation faced by the industry due to the government-mandated food service shutdown.”
She said the NPC is working to improve the terms of the program for growers.
“Our industry continues to believe that our recommendations of making all potatoes equally eligible and with a meaningful payment level of at least $0.04 per pound is a simple, balanced approach that ensures relief flows to growers who need support.”