Monday was the deadline for commodity groups to plead their case to be part of the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. In a Notice of Funding Availability, the National Potato Council said the industry faces an unprecedented crisis due to restaurant closures in the early part of 2020. “The USDA said if you don’t suffer at least a five percent price loss during that period of time, you can’t participate in the most valuable category of payments that we’re going to establish,” said Kam Quarles, CEO, National Potato Council. “We came back and with our data, we’ve proven not only have we suffered a five percent price hit, it’s actually four times larger than that. Impacted potato producers should be getting that relief.” Quarles said the USDA has received numerous filings from much of the specialty crop industry in the last week and there’s hope the request will be answered quickly. There is hope that potato markets will bounce back soon. “If the market comes back earlier, everyone benefits and then, producers ultimately won’t need the government assistance, but there’s no way to know how the COVID-19 pandemic will really shake out.”
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