Today, our nation faces a crisis of historic and staggering proportions. The coronavirus crisis has reached into millions of communities across America, with hundreds of thousands sick, many thousands have tragically passed, and millions have already lost their job or are at risk of losing it.
Since the beginning of this public health crisis, I have been worried about the severe toll that this pandemic would have on every sector of our society. One area of great concern, in particular, is agricultural industry and the livelihood of our local farmers, who feed our community and our nation.
The unanticipated closure of farmer’s markets, cessation of cruise lines, and the limited capacity or closure of restaurants, schools, and hotels has placed a tremendous strain on our local growers who rely on so much more than grocery stores to sell their product. As a result, fields worth of nutritious
tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, and more are sitting idle and rotting away.
At a time when those who can afford to are stocking up on food like never before, others are struggling to afford to feed their families and are relying on public
nutrition programs, our farmers are doing all they can. They recognize this hardship and have been making large donations to food banks and giving to those in need.
They are also getting creative – creating drive-through events for local residents and selling their crops to be canned and processed. But the
challenges confronting our farmers are dire, and these steps are not enough. Without sufficient revenue, many are at risk of losing their businesses.
That is why I led the bipartisan Florida delegation in urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to use his authority and funds
Congress approved to purchase surplus fruits and vegetables form our local farmers to supply our federal nutrition programs in Florida and across the country. In doing so, our famers will be paid for their products and our community members suddenly facing food insecurity will have better access to the nutritious food they need.
In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the most recent and largest coronavirus relief package, Congress provided $9.5 billion in support for agricultural producers. Farmers across the country and throughout Florida need their share of this funding, and they need it quickly.
Recognizing the grave circumstances of farmers whose crops are in peak season during this crisis and are extremely perishable, I have asked Secretary Perdue to ensure that getting aid the most vulnerable farmers is a top priority. If our farmers do not receive relief quickly, they may not have the financial
resources to plant and harvest crops in the next season, jeopardizing
our nation’s food supply and so much of our agricultural industry.
As Congress continues to work on relief efforts, I am fighting for our farmers.
We must ensure that farmers are eligible for Economic Disaster Injury Loans and we need to provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection
Program and make it easier to apply. We must also continue to beat the drum and press to protect our farmers against unfair trade practices with Mexico.
The next few months are going to be tremendously difficult for our families, our communities, and our economy. But I strongly believe that if we work together, we will get through this.
As your congresswoman, if there is anything I can ever do for you, please visit my website or contact my office at (305) 222-0160, and I will be happy to help.
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) represents FL-26.