NCFC wants all fruits and vegetables eligible for Section 32 purchases |

NCFC wants all fruits and vegetables eligible for Section 32 purchases

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives on Thursday urged the Agriculture Department to buy “all forms of fruits and vegetables” as part of an additional $873.3 million in Section 32 purchases of specialty crops for distribution to food banks to reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis on the produce industry and consumers.

“We appreciate your tremendous efforts to assist both agricultural producers and struggling families as effects of the pandemic impact communities across the country,” the letter states. “Your announcement regarding additional Section 32 purchases included three criteria the department would consider when making purchase determinations: industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs. We support these criteria.”

“As USDA conducts its analysis, one dynamic that should not be overlooked is that the COVID-19 market losses in foodservice channels impact growers of both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables,” the letter continues.

“As such, we request that your determinations not distinguish between fresh and processed forms of the product, but rather the criteria you have outlined above where the focus is on documented economic losses incurred regardless of the intended market.”

In recent years, USDA has emphasized the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, but ther co-op organization noted in a news release that it “has long been a leader in efforts to see that federal programs to encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables treat fresh, canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables equitably.”

“These efforts are based on substantial scientific research showing equivalent nutritional benefits of canned frozen or dried fruits and vegetables when compared to fresh.”

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