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Tomato Farmers Get A Little Help

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, September 18, 2008

Although CDC won’t exonerate tomatoes as a possible cause of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak and the chances for compensation aren’t very good, it does seem as if one segment of the federal government is trying to help:


WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2008 — Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is purchasing up to 3.6 million pounds of fresh tomatoes with currently available Farm Bill funds. The tomatoes will be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases a variety of high-quality food products each year for distribution by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The products are distributed through FNS’ national school lunch program, the school breakfast program, the summer food service program, the food distribution program on Indian reservations, the nutrition program for the elderly, the commodity supplemental food program and the emergency food assistance program. USDA also makes emergency purchases of commodities for distribution to those affected by natural disasters.

With today’s announcement, AMS will award immediately contracts for the desired quantity to responsible bidders.

Government food experts work to ensure that all of the food purchased is healthy and nutritious. Food items normally are required to be low in fat, sugar and sodium. The commodities must meet specified grade requirements and be USDA-inspected or graded to ensure quality. AMS purchases only products of 100 percent domestic origin.

Reminds us a little of the time Poppa Pundit flew to France because an importer claimed the avocados we had sold had cut black and thus refused to pay. Discussions were to no avail as the importer refused to accept responsibility, split the loss, etc. But we always felt that the importer did feel a little guilty as when Poppa Pundit went to check out, he found that the whole hotel bill had been paid.

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