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POLITICO reports:

USDA has already distributed a quarter of its $16 billion in farm rescue payments since late May, but several ag sectors are still appealing to be included in the program. Apple growers last week submitted nearly 30 pages of data to the department laying out their economic case for a cut of the aid, and apple-state lawmakers are now throwing their weight behind the effort.

Twenty-five lawmakers led by House Ag member Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) sent Secretary Sonny Perdue a letter arguing that the coronavirus "has had a drastic and damaging effect on apple growers," like countless other industries.

"These producers are often the backbones of rural communities," the members wrote. They said there are some 5,000 commercial apple growers in the U.S. and they generate $15 billion in economic activity, including packing, shipping and processing.

They also cited industry data showing that apple prices have declined since the beginning of the year by as much as 24.9 percent, while shipping volumes have dropped by roughly the same percentage. The price loss is well above USDA's threshold of 5 percent to qualify for stimulus payments, they added.

The National Potato Council this week also asked the department for more access to the agricultural aid, claiming that growers can't receive "meaningful relief from the program" because of how it's designed.
For example, the group claimed that USDA focused on retail sales when assessing the pandemic's effect on the potato market, which didn't account for the more severe impact on sales through restaurants and other foodservice businesses.

To read the Council's letter click here.

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