We, along with other members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), are reaching out to farmers and advocates like you to join an important Take Action initiative to demand of USDA that no farmer be left behind.
Relief efforts should be extended to all farmers in need, including family-scale farmers, those who sell into local/regional markets, diversified and organic farmers, underserved farmers and farmers of color.
It’s critical now that farmers especially urge USDA to fix problems so aid can get to all who need it.
This message is from NSAC and reprinted with permission:
USDA is preparing to distribute $16 billion in direct aid to farmers and ranchers who have experienced financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for the program, called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), will be open in early May – but the program as currently designed may leave out thousands of farmers – including producers who sell into local and regional markets and producers historically underserved by USDA, including farmers of color. These are unprecedented times – now is the time to urge USDA to fix problems with the program so aid can get to all who need it.
Right now, the program isn’t set up to account for farmers who sell into local/regional markets, diversified farmers, or organic farmers. It doesn’t have a thorough outreach plan or reserved funding for underserved producers (including farmers of color). It doesn’t reflect realistic timelines for farmers’ losses or their increased expenses in addition to their losses. And it does not focus aid on independent, family-scale livestock producers who need help (instead of large corporate operations). In short, there are many unknowns, and we need answers to ensure this program reaches all farmers impacted by the current crisis.
This crisis is unprecedented and USDA must respond in a manner that matches the urgency of the moment.
Now is the time to urge USDA to support farmers of all types and create an accessible, equitable program so aid can get to all who are in need. USDA is still working on the program, and we have an opportunity to reach them before the program rules are finalized.
What we can do:
- We can share stories that show who is missing from the program and at risk of being left out
- We can ask questions to highlight issues, concerns, and gaps in information
- We can demand that USDA #dobetter for farmers and ranchers and share solutions
How can we do this?
- Farmers can share stories on social media – along with asks – and tag USDA! This helps raise issues directly to USDA before the rulemaking period opens – and helps make issues more visible to the press and public.
- Farmers can call their county FSA offices to register concerns and ask questions – this gets concerns and questions flagged and raised internally at USDA
- Farmer allies can encourage farmers to take action, amplify farmers’ stores, and publicly stand with farmers at risk of being left out of USDA aid – this increases visibility for the issues and inspires more folks to take action
Visit NSAC’s Take Action page to learn more about how you can help make sure this program works for all farmers. Find their toolkit which includes sample language for farmers and farmer allies to use on social media and sample questions producers can use when calling county FSA offices.