Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried this week sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging swift action in getting the $9.5 billion in direct assistance provided by the CARES Act stimulus bill into the hands of agriculture producers. Fried also shared with USDA several proposals from national and Florida agriculture industry partners highlighting the needs on the ground in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the letter, Commissioner Fried doubled down on her previous request for the USDA to utilize its Section 32 purchasing authority to provide immediate relief to Florida farmers struggling due to market disruptions caused by COVID-19. This would allow more local producers to participate in federal feeding programs. Last week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched the Florida Farm to You commodities list to connect producers with potential buyers, helping redirect sales during this challenging time. In the letter to Secretary Perdue, Commissioner Fried encouraged the USDA to expand this effort on a national level.
The letter and supplemental industry requests were also shared with members of Florida’s Congressional delegation. The letter reads in part, “As the USDA continues working to mitigate the disruptions this pandemic has caused to the agriculture industry, including establishing urgently needed programs to get the $9.5 billion in direct aid provided by the CARES Act into the hands of producers as quickly as possible, I write today to lift up the recommendations of our industry partners in Florida on what is needed to keep our food supply and ag economy strong.”