IFB calls for funding, support for ag specialty areas

By Ashley Rice

Illinois Farm Bureau recently submitted comments to the USDA on behalf of IFB members whose commodities did not qualify for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

The commodity and industry areas addressed in the letter included greenhouses, horseradish, striped bass, game pheasants, dairy heifers, herbal remedies and blackberries.

Due the State of Illinois’ March 16 shelter-in-place order, financial impacts were felt immediately by the greenhouse industry. One suburban Chicago greenhouse lost Easter, Mother’s Day and school-related sales totaling roughly $250,000.

Horseradish producers typically enter contracts with processors for the following year’s crop. But because food service demand fell so quickly during the coronavirus outbreak, processors indicated they have a lot of horseradish in storage. This means it is unlikely that processors will purchase much or any of the 2020 crop.

Illinois aquaculture producers were also not immune to losses. One striped bass producer who sells directly to wholesale and restaurant markets faced a complete closure of his market.

Game pheasant producers who supply birds for hunt clubs also lost their sales during the shelter-in-place order. One business, Briney Bird Farm, had 2,072 birds in inventory that could not be sold and were set free at a loss of almost $30,000 to the farm.

The price of dairy heifers dropped considerably from November 2019 to April 2020. At a sale barn in Springfield, Missouri, the sale price of jersey dairy heifers fell from $1,270 to $779 per head in that time frame.

Herbal remedy growers and blackberry producers also lost thousands of dollars in profits as their markets closed during the onset of the pandemic.

In closing, the letter, signed by IFB President Richard Guebert Jr., stated:

“Clearly, the financial devastation caused by the ongoing pandemic has gone well beyond bulk commodity and livestock production into many specialty areas of U.S. agriculture. Our association appreciates the opportunity to comment on this NOFA (Notice of Funding Availability) and hope you can provide sufficient financial relief to each of these producers – and their impacted segments of agriculture – over the coming weeks and months.”

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.