Action Alert: USDA Pandemic Aid for Farmers
The situation: 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 will 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.
The problem: USDA’s aid program may leave folks out. It 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.
What we’re asking USDA to change:
- Provide payments to farmers selling into local/regional channels who have lost markets
- Conduct a thorough outreach program to reach all farmers and reserve funding for underserved producers, including farmers of color
- Focus funding toward family farms, not corporate middlemen
How we can do it:
Farmers: you can share stories on social media – along with asks – and tag USDA! Sample social media posts.
- Post a photo on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram of something you are planting/growing right now.
- Share how COVID-19 is impacting your farm business, market losses you’re experiencing, ways you are innovating, etc.
- Include a question or two, like: How will the USDA use funding provided by the CARES Act to support local producers like me? How will USDA ensure the funds reach historically underserved communities? How can diversified farmers show their losses? What about farmers whose losses came after April 16th? How can organic farmers qualify at organic prices?
- Use the handle @USDA on Twitter and Facebook and @usdagov on Instagram, and hashtag #Plant2020. Tag your Members of Congress too!
Farmers: you can call your county FSA office to register your concerns and ask questions. Sample Questions for FSA calls.
- Look up your county office via the FSA County Office Directory: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app
- Give them a call!
- Introduce yourself, your farm, what you do
- Let them know you’re calling about the new USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program $16 billion in farmer aid and that you have some questions about your eligibility. Click here for sample questions.
USDA Pandemic Aid for Farmers: Action Toolkit – Sample social media posts and questions for FSA offices.
Farmer allies: you can amplify farmers’ stories and publicly stand with farmers at risk of being left out of USDA aid
- NSAC Action Page: https://sustainableagriculture.net/take-action/
- FSA County Office Directory: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app
- USDA Press Release (official source of program details thus far): https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/04/17/usda-announces-coronavirus-food-assistance-program
Prepared by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Grassroots Team