AmericanHort Advocates Eligibility For Covid-19 Relief
On June 22, AmericanHort filed official comments urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make nursery and floriculture producers eligible for direct relief under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The comments were signed by a total of 104 national, regional, and state nursery, floral, landscape, and farm credit organizations and farm bureaus, who together represent and support all facets of the horticulture industry.
When Congress passed the CARES Act in April, the bill included significant funding to USDA for agricultural producer relief, explicitly including specialty crops. In late May, USDA announced that the new CFAP program would provide direct payments to producers of various row crops, specialty crops, and livestock. But the Department called for more information on several crop sectors, including nursery and floriculture.
The 104-organization comment letter explained how nursery and floriculture crop growers were impacted by business closures, stay-at-home orders, and other pandemic response just as the peak spring selling season was underway. It offered two options for how relief for lost crops and lost revenues might best be structured.
Dr. Charlie Hall of Texas A&M University assisted us with an economic impact summary that was submitted to USDA as well. Total COVID-19-related losses in the nursery and floriculture sector this spring are estimated to reach between $732 million and $1.2 billion.
We are hopeful that USDA acts to expand CFAP eligibility to nursery and floriculture producers by the end of July.