Published: April 1, 2020

Category: The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

The $2 trillion congressional relief aid bill to respond to the expanding coronavirus pandemic provides $9.5 billion in emergency funding to aid producers impacted by the ongoing crisis—including producers selling into local and regional markets.

“Congress has taken an important first step to helping farmers and local and regional food systems with this relief bill,” said Eric Deeble, Policy Director at National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). “As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and ‘social distancing’ restrictions, we expect farmers who have lost access to direct markets—like farmers markets, schools, and restaurants—stand to lose more than $1 billion in sales this year. As the impact of the pandemic continues, their losses will mount and they will have to make hard choices about what to plant and whether they can stay in business at all. Keeping operations profitable during this crisis is an even greater challenge for farmers with fewer resources to draw on in times of economic stress or uncertainty, including beginning farmers, small and mid-sized farmers, and farmers already experiencing systemic inequity, including farmers of color.”

“Farmers are going to need more help and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition will be looking to USDA to make sure any funding Congress provides reaches the farmers who need it most. In the weeks and months ahead, Congress must: ensure that the most-impacted farmers get direct payments to make up for lost income, prioritize additional administrative flexibility and direct investments in the field, including emergency food purchases from food hubs and small processors to keep them up and running, and ensure that every farmer has access to the credit and resources they need to put a crop in the ground this spring to provide for us all,” said Deeble.

NSAC released a statement on COVID-19 on March 19, highlighting the impacts of the pandemic on the food and farm system. The statement includes policy recommendations that NSAC hopes Congress will consider as further aid efforts move forward.