Apple and pear growers will be eligible for direct support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the details of which the agency announced this week.
The program, with up to $16 billion, aims to provide relief to producers who saw demand and prices plummet due to the pandemic.
To apply for benefits, producers must show they suffered a 5-percent or greater price decline from January to April or that they suffered losses due to supply chain or market disruptions, or both. Growers of any size are eligible, but payments are capped at $250,000, according to the USDA news release.
Eligible crops include apples, pears, peaches and blueberries, but not cherries.
Specifics about the eligibility criteria for tree fruit growers was not immediately clear, but industry groups, including the Northwest Horticultural Council and the U.S. Apple Association, have reached out to the USDA seeking more clarity.
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency will begin accepting applications on May 26. The agency advised producers to prepare documentation and schedule appointments by phone to work with FSA staff to file applications, which will be accepted through August 28.
More information is available online at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.
—by Kate Prengaman