The United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA) has rejected claims by a US senator that the country’s fruit and vegetable growers across the country are not being paid a fair price for their produce.
New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand has called on the US Department of Agriculture to launch a review into produce pricing, claiming that farmerse were getting a bad deal.
In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on 24 September, Gillibrand said New York farmers were facing a crisis, as they prices they received have remained flat, or even fallen, while the middlemen had seen prices for the same produce increase.
“Despite this, the USDA has not reviewed the fruit and vegetable industry in decades. We need to understand what is causing these unfair prices for our farmers, and I am calling on the USDA to complete a top-to-bottom review of the fruit and vegetable industry so that we can help New York’s farmers better price their produce and plan for their future,” Gillibrand said.
In response, the association issued a statement on Monday from president and CEO Tom Stenzel saying: “The fresh produce industry operates on extremely tight margins, at every stage from grower to wholesaler to retailer.
“Our industry is the ultimate supply-and-demand economy, and our real goal must be to increase demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s the key to raising prices paid to farmers, allowing reinvestment for growth.”
Stenzel added that transparency in the supply chain is a good thing, and that the UFPA would welcome a USDA review.
“It’s important for each sector in our supply chain not to lose sight of our goal to grow fresh produce consumption, while fighting with one another over whose share of a dwindling pie is bigger,” Stenzel said.