Representatives TJ Cox and Jim Costa Discuss CA Crops Left out of Aid Programs with USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey

Sep 14, 2020
Press Release
Crops such as Pima Cotton, Raisins and Wine Grapes continue to be excluded from USDA Corona Virus Relief Programs even after constant pressure from CA delegation members.
Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21) and Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) spoke with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm Programs and Conservation Bill Northey regarding ELS (pima) cotton, raisins, wine grapes and other crops and their eligibility for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and the ongoing issues specialty crop producers have had in accessing these programs. By being included in CFAP, growers of these crops affected by the pandemic would receive direct relief to combat price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.  
“I’d like to thank Under Secretary Northey for meeting with Rep. Costa and me to talk about the plight of growers in the Central Valley,” said Rep. Cox. “I have been in constant contact with farmers and ranchers in my district, and have heard their frustrations and need for help. These hardworking people are in dire need of assistance that can be provided through CFAP. I hope that after our discussion today, the USDA works quickly to develop new criteria and deployment of resources that help ensure that the farmers and ranchers who work hard every day to make sure our country is fed during this pandemic are able to weather this  current crisis.”   
"California is the largest agricultural state in the nation and the most diverse. Forty-four percent of our agricultural products are exported. Therefore, it's important the USDA understand this when developing the next Coronavirus food assistance program to support commodities that have been severely impacted as a result of this pandemic. Crops like pima cotton, raisins, and wine grapes, among others, were left out of the first round even though these crops have been hard hit by the pandemic. Fruits and vegetables, of which California produces over half the Nation’s supply, overall received a much smaller share of relief funds. USDA must develop an equitable program and remember that not all impacts are measured simply by price loss. Agriculture is a national security issue, we need to treat it as such. It’s my hope that the USDA understands the tough times we are facing in California in producing food for our nation,” said Rep. Costa. 
This meeting follows a letter sent by Rep. TJ Cox and Reps. Jim Costa (CA-16), Josh Harder (CA-10), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), and Tom O’Halleran (AZ-1) to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue urging for the inclusion of Pima cotton producers in CFAP.