richardson farms - face mask - website.jpg

What Does the CARES Act mean for our local food system?

You may have heard about the coronavirus relief packages and followed the to-the-minute discussions about how to allocate emergency pandemic funding. Many folks in our community are waiting for their stimulus check and deliberating how best to spend the much-needed economic support.

An article from The Washington Post shows that people are mostly spending their stimulus checks on food and other essentials. How will the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act be spent on those that produce our food, specifically, our Central Texas farmers and ranchers?


On Friday, April 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to support farmers and ranchers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is set to include $16 billion, which will go directly to producers based on actual losses for agricultural products. An additional $3 billion will be allocated for buying food directly from producers and distributing it to emergency feeding operations with the support of local distributors.

What we don’t know

We don’t know exactly how that $16 billion will be allocated across agricultural sectors. For example, how much do dairy farmers receive vs. farmers growing grapefruit vs. cotton producers?

Importantly, we are lacking specifics about whether these funds will be designated for producers selling into local and regional markets, like ours here in Central Texas. We are also unclear how, if at all, these funds might be directed toward historically underserved producers.

What we do know

USDA expects to begin sign-ups for the new program in early May and to get payments out to producers by the end of May or early June.  Meanwhile, we will advocate to ensure aid is distributed equitably, reaches farmers selling into local and regional markets, and is delivered in a simple and accessible manner, and goes to producers.

We will also provide updates as we receive them. Be sure to check out future blog posts and follow our social media accounts for continued information.

For questions, please contact Simone Benz: