Tree fruit groups urge stimulus flexibility
Tree fruit growers are appealing to Ag Secretary Perdue for funding from the coronavirus stimulus bill to be both “flexible and “adaptable” because of their “unique” business practices.
The U.S. Apple Association and other groups say there’s no way to calculate the impact of COVID-19 has or will have on their sector yet.
Because tree fruit growers are large users of the H-2A guestworker program, they say a late summer slowdown or shut down at the border would result in millions of dollars in tree fruit left unharvested.
The groups say they’re already having sales losses – especially through the school lunch program and food service sectors. And there’s a decrease in productivity because of COVID-19 protective measures in packing houses and an increase of labor costs per box of fruit.
The letter is also signed by the Michigan Apple Committee, the Northwest Horticultural Council and tree fruit organizations: California, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington.