Congress steps up for family farmers
March 31, 2020
$9.5 billion emergency fund to aid food producers impacted by COVID-19
Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), a nonprofit organization that serves small- and mid-scale farmers in California, issued the following statement from Policy Director Dave Runsten in response to the $9.5 billion in emergency funding meant to aid non-commodity farmers impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis:
“The $2 trillion bill provides a special $9.5 billion emergency fund to aid food producers impacted by the ongoing crisis – including dairy, livestock, specialty crop growers, and “producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools.” We will be working with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and other food advocates in Washington, D.C., to make sure that USDA makes funds available to the farmers and food hubs in our local food systems.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting shelter-in-place orders by states like California, the food industry has been hit hard, with impacts rippling out to farmers who depend on sales to now-shuttered restaurants, schools, wholesalers and even farmers markets. Almost overnight, some of these family farms lost a majority if not all of their sales outlets. While they scramble to shift business models and find new buyers, agriculture poses unique challenges; for many here in California, perishable crops are ready to harvest now and new fields are already planted.
“While vital to their local communities, most of these small, family-owned farms operate on slim profit margins. This new federal aid is a big step towards helping these farms stay in business, allowing them to keep their staff paid and their farms in production during this unprecedented crisis. CAFF continues to support farmers in need while encouraging consumers to purchase directly from local farms whenever possible, but thanks to this bill, there’s an even better chance that these family farms will survive another season. An investment in the family farms that grow our food is an investment in the health and resilience of our communities.”