Sunday, October 1, 2017

USDA Announces SNAP Policy for Displaced Puerto Rico Residents

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2017 -- Individuals receiving benefits under Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), who have been displaced due to the recent hurricanes, can apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in the area where they currently reside, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced. This ensures that NAP participants who relocated as a result of destruction from hurricanes Irma and Maria receive much needed nutrition assistance even though they may not be able to close their current case in Puerto Rico, as would be necessary under regular procedures. The policy will facilitate access to nutritious food for households in immediate need, since NAP benefits cannot be used outside Puerto Rico. “Paperwork should take a back seat in challenging times like these where folk are experiencing hardships in the aftermath of these devastating storms,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “This USDA policy will ensure families get the food they need, where they are, helping bring a bit of stability in trying times.” In an effort to serve these displaced Americans, USDA has advised all SNAP State agencies to serve such households using regular SNAP eligibility rules, including expedited procedures as appropriate. Expedited procedures enable households to receive an eligibility decision within 7 days rather than the typical 30 days, if they have very little income or resources. The flexibility allows NAP households to terminate their NAP cases as soon as is feasible when systems on the island are restored. NAP participants will be asked to sign an affidavit stating that they understand that no member of the household may receive benefits from both NAP and SNAP simultaneously, and agreeing to close their NAP case as soon as possible. Once signed, households may receive SNAP for 2 months subject to SNAP’s normal eligibility criteria. The policy is in effect until October 31, 2017.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 CALIFORNIA PRUNE HARVEST RETURNS TO TYPICAL LEVELS FOLLOWING WEATHER-CHALLENGED YIELD OF 2016

Sacramento, CA (September 19, 2017) – The 2017 California prune harvest is projected to reach 105,000 tons (95,254 metric tonnes), according to forecasts by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The projected harvest will yield a 99-percent increase over the unusually light 2016 harvest of 52,851 tons (47,946 metric tonnes). USDA and NASS estimates are based on surveys among California prune growers. “California prunes consistently represent the world’s finest quality fruit,” said Donn Zea, Executive Director, California Dried Plum Board. “This year, the industry is returning to a normal size harvest that will help meet consumer and trade demand.” The 2017 harvest started slightly later than usual and will likely conclude by mid-September. Zea adds that growers are reporting healthy trees that have rebounded from the weather-related challenges of recent years. “We are on track for a good year for California prunes,” said John Taylor, Vice President/Owner, Taylor Brothers Farms. “We are seeing strong, highly productive orchards and delicious, premium caliber fruit that sets the global gold standard for prunes.” California is the world’s largest producer of prunes providing approximately 40 percent of the world’s supply and almost all of the U.S. supply. The French prune variety accounts for virtually all of the dried plum acreage grown in California. For more information about California prunes, please visit www.CaliforniaDriedPlums.org.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Tax Reform Agenda

(Washington, D.C., September 27, 2017) – Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s vision of a broad reform of the American tax code, which will result in dramatic tax cuts for millions of American individuals, families, businesses, and family farmers, ranchers, and foresters. Secretary Perdue issued the following statement: “The people of American agriculture work hard every day to provide food, fiber, and fuel for their fellow citizens, so they shouldn’t be overburdened by the tax collector as well. Most family farms operate as small businesses, with the line between success and failure frequently being razor thin. Add to that the complexity and costs of merely complying with the tax code, and their budgets are stretched even tighter. On top of it all, the unfair ‘Death Tax’ can cause too many family farms to be broken up and sold off to pay the tax bill, undoing lifetimes of toil and preventing further generations from carrying on. President Trump is right to push for reform and reductions in the tax code—an overhaul that is long overdue.”