Four California congressmen recently asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack to have the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) buy $100 million worth of California navels. The orange purchase would help alleviate the impacts of storms.
The letter from Congressmen Jim Costa, David Valadao, Doug LaMalfa and Josh Harder follows:
We write in support of the Section 32 request submitted by California’s citrus growers for a USDA purchase of high-quality USDA Grade #2 California navels to alleviate some of the market impacts of historic storms earlier this year. From January through May 2023, periods of heavy rainfall caused by multiple atmospheric rivers in California resulted in floods that affected parts of Southern California, the California Central Coast and Northern California. As a result of the storms, California’s citrus groves were greatly impacted by increased damage from citrus thrips.
As a result of this elevated pest pressure, California’s growers anticipate a 15% loss in navels that will be unmarketable, and another 15% increase in USDA Grade #2 fruit entering the marketplace than would normally occur in a typical season. The downgrade in pricing and loss of marketable products will significantly affect citrus growers’ already strained financial situation for the upcoming season.
Section 32 was authorized to help alleviate markets experiencing an oversupply situation, at the same time providing relatively inexpensive and nutritious fruits and vegetables for use in domestic food assistance programs. A USDA purchase of $100 million in Grade #2 navels will help address these strains on the industry while also securing high-quality fresh fruit for our nation’s critical feeding programs.
We urge you to make the requested purchase to prevent further economic loss to our growers already impacted by these storms.
Learn more about the storms and thrips problems in California here.
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