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NPR cheap shots food box program

These food boxes were procured and packed by Titan Farms this summer.

NPR is a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, but its latest analysis on USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program is filled with cheap shots and ignorance of the fresh produce market.

It claims food banks are ambivalent about the program and quotes Eric Cooper, the president of the San Antonio Food Bank, which was victimized by the catering company that couldn’t fulfill its contract.

We’ve covered that issue extensively, and USDA clearly got the message and ended its contract with the company.

Among the changes are that all contract holders must have a PACA license.

All the produce companies I’ve talked to who have gotten contracts say their experience with food banks and charities has been amazing, and they are all extremely grateful.

In its latest press release in late August on the program, USDA gratuitously included about 100 quotes from participating companies and feeding organizations praising the program.

NPR could have reached out to any of them but chose the food bank that was well documented as having a bad experience.

The story also claims American farmers no longer need the help.

“The supply chain crisis of last spring has now passed. Farmers aren’t dumping loads of milk or destroying harvest-ready fields anymore. Some have found new buyers such as grocery stores. Others have reduced production. Many still want the USDA to continue to step in and buy some of their crops.”

NPR didn’t talk to any farmers who were critical of the program. The only one quoted was Brian Rose, CEO of Flavor 1st Growers and Packers LLC, BB #:170303 Hendersonville, NC, where Trump announced an addition $1 billion in funding for the program in late August.

Rose said the food box program has been a big help for farms like his to survive the pandemic.

The crisis is not over, and a quick look at the economy would tell you that.

Restaurant, school and institutional food buyers are nowhere close to buying what they were before the pandemic, so the crisis is very real for fresh produce growers.

Some growers can reduce production, but many of the items in food boxes – apples, oranges, potatoes, onions – are annual crops that couldn’t have anticipated this crisis.

The food box program isn’t perfect, but USDA has been willing to listen to feedback and change the process when necessary.

NPR seems more interested in making Trump look bad than acknowledging all the good this program is doing for food companies and needy Americans

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services