Five representatives from southwestern states sent a letter Friday asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to include extra-long staple (also known as Pima) cotton producers in coronavirus relief programs.

The letter — signed by Reps. TJ Cox, D-Calif., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Josh Harder, D-Calif, Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz. — argues ELS market prices saw a 7.2% decline between January and April, meaning its producers meet the requirements to be eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

“Many Extra-Long Staple or Pima cotton producers have faced a disproportionate amount of loss compared to upland cotton producers because of the lack of support and exclusion from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program,” the letter states. “ELS producers are continuing to lose money as the demand for ELS cotton has largely disappeared, resulting in larger carryover stocks, and ELS loan interest costs have increased.”

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The USDA says that ELS cotton is one of two types of cotton that is cultivated for commercial use and typically has longer fibers than its counterpart, upland cotton. According to the letter, there are approximately 500 ELS cotton farms in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

Last week, USDA announced additional commodities that were newly eligible for CFAP funds, including many fruits and vegetables.

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