Rep. Garamendi Advocates for California Almond Growers Impacted by Coronavirus

Press Release, Rep. John Garamendi, July 13, 2020 – –Washington, DC—Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) sent a letter to the United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue advocating for the United States Department of Agriculture’s support for California’s almond industry through a direct purchase program as it grapples with the effects of COVID-19.

Garamendi has supported the California nut industry in their efforts to be included in past programs as a result of the negative impacts of global retaliatory tariffs.  Garamendi continues this whole-hearted support as he advocates for USDA purchases of nutritious and healthy nuts during the COVID pandemic. In his letter, Garamendi requests that “USDA purchase almonds for a nutritious protein to include in food banks to help feed the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

Garamendi hosted USDA Secretary Perdue in Clarksburg, California on June 28, 2019 to discuss the benefits of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) with local farmers. In his current letter to Secretary Perdue, Garamendi expresses his support for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which allocates for direct payments to specialty crop producers as well as commodity purchases. This important program is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and was passed by Congress for direct support based on losses for agriculture producers where prices and market supply chains have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

“California’s almond industry was already facing hardship from retaliatory tariffs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has made a hard year even harder for California’s almond growers, and the federal government must take action to help them weather this storm,” Garamendi said.

“Since the onset of COVID-19 almond raw bulk market prices have drastically declined, and the industry anticipates a 36% reduction in farm gate value, according to the Almond Alliance of California. Almonds are a top-three commodity in California, contributing approximately 104,000 jobs and more than $11 billion to the state’s economy,” Garamendi continued.

“As our nation toils with a once-in-a-century global pandemic there is an even greater need to ensure our nation’s food supply is strong. California’s food banks have seen a 73% increase in demand due to COVID-19, and demand is expected to remain high in the coming years. We request that USDA purchase almonds for a nutritious protein to include in food banks to help feed the most vulnerable members of our communities. Additionally, supporting our nation’s almond growers is critical to ensuring Americans have a stable supply of healthy food at their disposal during the pandemic. I implore USDA to provide the necessary support and I will always advocate for the local agriculture sector through my work in Congress,” Garamendi concluded.

“The Almond Alliance thanks Congressman Garamendi for leading the effort to include California almonds in a USDA food purchase, as it will provide relief as the almond industry navigates through the impacts of COVID-19 and provide a healthy food source to those in need,” said Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino.  “COVID-19 has impacted the domestic and international supply chain for California’s top agricultural export and we are hoping for a win-win solution. We strongly encourage continued efforts that will ensure that agriculture (essential infrastructure) remains viable during these unique times.”

A copy of Garamendi’s letter to Secretary Perdue can be viewed here.