Take action NOW to protect farmers

Policy Update

In the last week, how the government should respond to the coronavirus pandemic has consumed Washington, DC.  Things are happening quickly, with Congress already passing two bills with initial responses on healthcare measures, emergency nutrition assistance, temporary paid leave, and unemployment insurance. But there will be more bills to come and there are negotiations underway between the House, Senate and White House on a third bill to create a massive economic stimulus package. The negotiations over the stimulus package have been changing quickly and are happening behind closed doors, but organic agriculture advocates including OFA are letting members of Congress know that organic farms need to be a priority in any response. We may also see Congress take up other spending bills that get more specific on how departments like the USDA spend money in response to the pandemic, so we have been sharing our specific requests for USDA program funding as well.

If you want to tell your members of Congress to support organic farmers and direct market farms, the best way to reach them is likely to be email, since many congressional offices have shifted their staffs to working remotely. You can find contact information for your Representative at www.house.gov (use the “Find Your Representative” box at the top right and then go to your member’s website and look for a Contact tab) and your two Senators at www.senate.gov (go to the “Senators” tab and then “Contact” to find the Senators from your state.)

Tell them you want any response to the pandemic to:

  • Ensure that farms, farmers markets, farm stands, and CSAs are deemed essential services and have the same status as retail stores when it comes to social gathering and loss of income
  • Increase certification cost-share assistance for certified organic farms and handlers and provide immediate payment
  • Include farmers selling in local and regional markets in emergency disaster payments, emergency farm loans and loan forgiveness
  • Disaster payments should cover both crops not harvested or not sold, as well as those that can move to emergency food needs; organic producers should be paid at the organic price.
  • Support the proposals made by Rep. Pingree in her recent letterand a letter signed by 37 members of the House on ways to address the needs of farmers who sell their products through local and regional markets.