As Congress rushed to pass a $2-trillion stimulus package to address the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, 37 members of Congress spoke up to point out that some very important people had been forgotten: the farmers we expect to continue feeding us!
News of the final version of the bill included farm aid, but it is unclear if support will reach small-scale farmers.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to protect the small-scale farmers, local food systems and rural communities we rely on to feed us!
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition issued this pandemic-related dire prediction:
“Across key local and regional markets (i.e., farmers markets, farm to school, food hubs serving other institutions, and restaurants) we expect to see up to a $688.7 million decline in sales leading to a payroll decline of up to $103.3 million, and a total loss to the economy of up to $1.32 billion from March to May 2020. Without immediate mitigation, we may lose many small, socially disadvantaged, and beginning farms and the important markets they serve.”
Congress must act quickly to prevent the collapse of local and regional food systems! We won’t survive if the farmers who feed our local communities don’t survive!
Congress must work to make our nation’s network of food systems one that is resilient enough to withstand future crises, while nourishing all Americans with the nutritious food we need for optimum health.
One of the reasons why COVID-19 is so deadly is because many people are already suffering from diet-related health problems that weaken their immune systems and make them vulnerable to infectious disease.
A new expert report on reducing obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems linked to diet, calls for addressing disparities in access to healthy foods and the added challenges of climate change and pollution.
Their 60 recommendations include calls to:
• Improve federal feeding programs, such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
• Align agricultural production with sustainability goals.
• Integrate nutrition into healthcare settings.
• Create healthy food environments by, for instance, shielding children from harmful advertising.
• Start with the youngest eaters by, among other things, boosting funding to schools to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables.
For a truly resilient and nourishing food system, we need a Green Stimulus that would:
• Strengthen organic standards.
• Compensate farmers for regenerative agriculture practices that sequester carbon in soils.
• Direct federal support to small-scale producers who make investments in local and regional food sovereignty.
• Foster robust scientific expertise, free of corporate influence, in regulatory decision-making and federal programs.
• Prevent food shortages and wasted surpluses by establishing supply management programs, including government purchasing.
• Establish a parity pricing system that ensures farmers are paid the full costs of production plus a reasonable profit and farm workers earn a living wage.
• Provide universal access to healthy organic food through nutrition programs and at a fair price in all communities.
• Support indigenous farming practices, end biopiracy and prevent the contamination of native seeds.
• Give beginning, socially disadvantaged and regenerative farmers fair access to land and credit, including through no-interest, no-match loans to fund land and equipment purchases for pasture-based, organic and specialty crop operations.
• Commit to reparations for black farmers and indigenous communities.
• Incentivize community and cooperatively owned farmland, and make government-owned land available to incubate beginning farmers.
• Support regenerative ocean farming, low-carbon aquaculture focused on seaweeds and shellfish.
• Prepare fishing communities for the impacts of climate change.
• Secure the rights of immigrant workers and their families to healthcare, food and shelter, while providing pathways to citizenship.