The global COVID-19 pandemic is touching nearly every part of our lives – including food and agriculture. Necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus have resulted in the immediate loss of key markets for growers, and ongoing uncertainty threatens farmers’ ability to plan for the growing season just underway. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people nationwide have been laid off, and the need for emergency support – including food – for the most vulnerable in our society is now.
CalCAN statement: Striving for resilience and adaptability. Read the statement here.
Update April 29, 2020: Ensure COVID-19 aid reaches farmers in need:
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 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.
How can we all help?
- If you’re a farmer: share your story on social media, tagging USDA and using the hashtag #dobetterUSDA
Here’s an example:
“Hey @USDA, I’m a new farmer taking over the organic raisin business from my dad. I tried to get a PPP loan two weeks ago but the lender ran out of money before I finished my application. We need #coronavirus aid – I’m worried you will leave us out. This is a photo of [your fields, your crops, etc – what does the photo illustrate?]. [Ask your question here!] We need you to #dobetterUSDA!”
- Farmers, you can also contact California’s state Farm Service Agency (FSA) office – who will be distributing the funds – to ask questions about your eligibility and register your concern at (530) 792-5520. Click here for call guidance and sample questions to ask.
- Not a farmer? Post on social media to stand with [your state/region] farmers and amplify their voices!
Find more materials on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) action webpage.
NSAC Statement on COVID-19 and its impacts on the Farm and Food System includes the following policy recommendations:
- Ensure all farmers are included in any broader stimulus or farm relief package
- Sustain demand for farm products and ensure equitable food access and distribution through direct purchase mechanisms and expanded food aid
- Provide direct financial assistance to producers affected by the loss of domestic markets through USDA’s disaster, indemnity, and other program authorities
- Provide direct financial assistance to critical supply chain businesses, food system workers, and food establishments
- Offer increased administrative flexibility for existing farm and food system programs
Read the statement here.
(March 26, 2020) Learn about farmer relief in the recently passed CARES Act: A closer look at farmer relief in Senate pandemic aid package
CalCAN is advocating to address the broad and detrimental impacts of COVID-19 across all sectors, signing on to the following letters:
Principles for a #JustRecovery from COVID-19: lead by 350.org; your organization can still sign on.
Statewide Water Shutoff Moratorium—letter to the Governor: lead by the Community Water Center and other clean water advocates.