Fruit, vegetable growers call for changes to PPP |

Fruit, vegetable growers call for changes to PPP

Fruit and vegetable growers said Thursday they hope Congress will adjust the Paycheck Protection Program to make it more useful to their industry in addressing economic problems related to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a webinar organized by the Farm Credit Council, Sean Gilbert, a fruit producer from Yakima, Wash., said that the PPP had been “really appreciated,” because 55 to 60% of his costs are in labor. But he noted that there is a time limit on the use of the PPP and said he hopes Congress will “extend it out a bit.”

Gilbert noted that the produce industry has been “proud of not relying on subsidies,” but “if we don’t get more financial assistance from the government there is going to be a wave of bankruptcies, particularly among small producers.”

Tobin Basore, a fruit producer from Belle Glade, Fla., urged people to “support your local farmer. It is expensive getting into specialty crops. Once we’re gone, we are not coming back. We need all the help we can to survive this.”

Savannah Gillis Turner, a vegetable producer from Arrey, N.M., said “any time a farmer has to disk up or destroy a crop it’s gut wrenching.”

Turner said she hears “people saying the farmers are getting help,” but believes they should be made aware that farmers also face “costs at the end of the year.”