Ensure Farmers and Local Food are Protected in this Crisis
The global COVID-19 pandemic is touching nearly every part of our lives—including food and agriculture. Necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus have resulted in the immediate loss of key markets for growers, and ongoing uncertainty threatens farmers’ ability to plan for the growing season just underway. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people nationwide have been laid off, and emergency support—including food—for the most vulnerable in our society is needed now.
We need your help TODAY: Congress is making decisions right now about aid for people and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Now is the time to make sure that farmers and the innovative food and farm businesses building resilient local and regional food systems get the support they need to continue feeding our communities, paying their employees, and responding rapidly to emergency needs.
Tell them this is what we need to see in the stimulus or farm recovery package:
Aid for vulnerable farmers and farm workers: Provide direct payments to farmers who have lost revenue from local and regional markets due to this crisis and ensure farm workers are included in emergency unemployment assistance
Resources to connect local farmers to families in need: Invest in community-based emergency efforts to buy food from farmers and get it to those who need it most
Credit to keep farmers in business: Expand farmers' access to credit and offer debt flexibility to ensure they can plant, grow, and harvest the food that we need this year
Labor to harvest food: Ensure foreign and domestic agricultural workers are fully available by expediting entry of previously interviewed H-2A workers returning to their previous host farms and streamline the vetting process for new workers
Here’s what that support can look like in our communities:
Direct aid for the vulnerable producers most impacted by this crisis, including farmers who sell to local, regional, and direct markets who aren’t well served by traditional disaster payments
Increasing the government’s ability to purchase local farm products and get them into the emergency food system for those in need
Investing in community efforts on the front lines—like new approaches for connecting growers with new customers and food aid, helping farmers boost food safety measures, and more.
Time is of the essence. The pandemic’s impacts are happening now in our communities and on farms around the country. In the months ahead, the resilience of our farm and food system will be an essential factor in determining our success in responding to this pandemic. Now is the time for critical investments in farmers and food systems to help us not only navigate this major challenge but take proactive steps toward making our food and agriculture system more equitable, resilient, and sustainable.