USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has distributed billions in aid, but the program has left out thousands of producers. That’s largely because payments to farmers are calculated by a pricing index that uses national average prices for products, rather than the actual costs that farmers selling directly to markets and customers have incurred during the pandemic or the actual prices of their crops.
While SFC has worked hard to maintain strong sales at our Farmers Markets, the majority of farmers selling local foods have suffered severe market disruptions due to COVID-19.
More effective, targeted aid that meets the real needs of the producers and local food businesses working hard to feed their communities is needed now.
U.S. Representative Alma Adams (NC-12) introduced the Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (HR 8096) in the House of Representatives. The bill is a comprehensive approach to help small and mid-scale farms, farmers markets, and local food businesses cope with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act would:
- Create a COVID-19 relief payment program for farmers, who sell in local and regional markets, based on their lost revenue.
- Ensure Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) producers and low-income communities of color receive equitable access to COVID-19 relief programs.
- Provide emergency response grants for farmers' markets and local food enterprises to implement public health protections and COVID-19-friendly marketing practices.
- Invest in the restoration and enhancement of local and value-added agriculture markets.
Time is running out to get this proposal included in the COVID-19 stimulus package being negotiated in Congress right now. Your voice can make a critical difference and help keep local farms in business.
Got two minutes? Please make two calls—dial your two U.S. senators and urge them to support local food in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill by introducing a Senate version of the Local and Regional Farms and Markets Support Act. If you’re in Texas, we’ve made it easy for you:
Ted Cruz: (202) 224-5922
John Cornyn: (202) 224-2934
Here is a script you may use (adapt as you like):
“Hello, my name is _________ and I am a constituent and a voter (tell them if you’re a farmer!).
I’m calling to urge you to support small and mid-scale local farms in the next COVID-19 relief package. Three out of four small farms are losing significant income because restaurant, farmers market, and agritourism sales have shrunk due to the pandemic. Many local farms in our community will be out of business by the end of the year if they don’t get targeted relief in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill.
Current USDA programs pay local farmers just pennies per pound on the crops they produce, which doesn’t come close to the losses local farms are suffering. The Local and Regional Farms and Markets Support Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives as House Bill 8096. Please introduce a Senate companion to House Bill 8096 so our local farms can receive the support that meets their needs in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill.
Thank you for your time."