More than 750 farm and food system organizations from all across the country joined their voices in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue calling on USDA to provide direct aid to agricultural producers in a manner that redresses economic harm, advances equity, and fosters resilience in the nation's farm and food system.
The letter stresses the importance of providing direct payments to producers who have seen local and regional markets transformed, and in many cases completely eliminated, by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Congress acted quickly to approve more than $23.5 billion in the CARES Act to support farmers who are reeling from the pandemic - and in doing so they wisely provided dedicated funding and clearly identified farmers who rely on direct markets as a unique group that needs targeted relief," the letter reads. "The important tools to keep people safe and limit the harm of this pandemic - social distancing, the closure of schools, institutions, and restaurants, and ensuring that food system workers stay safe - are an enormous challenge for farmers that sell into local and regional markets. Even those farmers that have the good fortune to live in a state where some markets continue to operate, have incurred significant costs to modify how they deliver their farm goods and to improve safety measures for themselves, their employees, and for their customers.”
Farmers who rely upon local and regional direct markets will lose more than $1 billion this year, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition reports, not including additional costs in adapting to disrupted markets. The letter makes a series of recommendations for USDA to structure a payment program to support farmers. The dairy industry also prepared a crisis plan for USDA to support dairy farmers during the pandemic.
Source: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.