As farmers and ranchers across the country are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA is preparing to distribute $16 billion in direct aid to producers who have experienced financial losses. Applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will be open in early May, but the program as currently designed may leave out thousands of farmers. 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.
USDA’s plan 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 isn’t set up to focus aid on independent, family-scale producers who need help (instead of large corporate operations). USDA has not yet released full details on their program – so now is the time to ask questions and speak up to ensure the program works for all farmers in need of aid.
Allies can be effective by advocating for the producers across the country who continue to grow food for us when we need it the most. Consider posting a message of support like the ones below – or customized entirely to fit your community.
Hey @USDA – [name of a farm you love, it could be one in your own community or it could be one of the many Jewish farms like Adamah, Abundance Farm, One Soil Farm, etc.] is an amazing farm feeding our community during #coronavirus – I’m worried your aid program will leave them out. [include a photo if you can]. [Will you help diversified farmers? Will you help organic farmers? How will you ensure equitable aid to farmers of color?] We need you to #dobetterUSDA!
Hey @USDA – Farmers and ranchers across the country are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Markets are upended, farmers and farm workers are in need of safety equipment, and everyone is working hard to get food to people amidst many challenges. I’m worried to see that now, to make things worse, the government’s new farmer aid program doesn’t seem to include some of the farmers who will be hit hardest and who are doing the most critical work feeding communities. USDA: [Insert your own question. Examples: Will you help diversified farmers? Will you help organic farmers? How will you ensure equitable aid to farmers of color?] Now is the time for us to stand up for the resilient, innovative farmers and producers who are keeping their communities fed in a crisis despite lost markets. In a global state of emergency – how will you ensure that the ones feeding us are able to stay afloat? We need you to #dobetterUSDA!