On June 23, AmericanHort released the following statement after filing 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 over 100 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.
“Many floriculture and nursery crop growers were suddenly and severely harmed as the pandemic response bore down, disrupting market channels and constraining consumers,” said Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort senior vice president for advocacy. “We sincerely and respectfully urge USDA to move swiftly to extend eligibility to our industry, and we thank the 104 organizations who joined us in this effort.”
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 a wide array of row crops, specialty crops, and livestock, but that the Department needed more information on several sectors, including nursery and floriculture, before making a final determination.
The 104-organization letter details how the horticulture industry was affected, just as the peak spring selling season was underway, by business closures, stay-at-home orders, and other pandemic responses and offers options for how relief could best be structured.
The comment letter was prepared by a working group that included AmericanHort, the Society of American Florists (SAF), the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA), and the California Farm Bureau Federation. Dr. Charlie Hall of Texas A&M University assisted with an economic impact discussion that was submitted to USDA along with the comments. Total COVID-19-related losses in the nursery and floriculture sector this spring are estimated to reach between $732 million and $1.2 billion.
For more information, visit AmericanHort’s website here.