Executive Director’s Letter: It’s Time to Drive Home the Message

This 2020 blueberry season, our industry faced unprecedented hardship.

In the past, we have always adapted to adversity. Whether it was hurricanes, freezes or explosive production pressures, our Florida growers have shown resilience and remained the cornerstone of the US Blueberry industry.

This year, along with many other Florida Specialty Crop growers, we were entering our peak production period during a global pandemic. To say this season we have experienced unprecedented loss would be an understatement.  

As Florida entered peak blueberry production, sales all but halted, but we kept harvesting, committed to providing a safe and ethically sourced crop to our consumers who deserve American Grown fresh fruit and vegetables.

The FBGA quickly began working with the North American Blueberry Council, Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Ag, the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and Florida Farm Bureau to make your voice heard in DC and to advocate for your interests.

In late May, when the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program was finally released and published, it left blueberries off the list for Category 1 eligibility. The assistance would have allowed growers to apply for relief monies due to price injury. The omission was unexpected and upsetting, but we were able to mobilize quickly because of the groundwork we had been laying for weeks.

On the very first day allowed, NABC submitted an appeal to the USDA on behalf of the entire industry and we expect a response any day.

If there is a silver lining to this season, it is that the American consumer is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of a domestic food supply.  Consumers with no direct ties to agriculture saw the vulnerability we will be exposed to if we don’t support our farmers.

We are just beginning to pick up momentum on a movement that is paramount to the success of Florida blueberries, Florida agriculture and US agriculture. 

We must not let this moment pass us by.  Continue to educate, and continue to advocate. 

We must let our voices be heard.  We must Demand American Grown.

Brittany H. Lee

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