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Daily News Blog

20
Mar

Tell Congress to Help Organic Farmers and Consumers Hurt by the Pandemic, Today!

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2020) Support Organic Farmers as They Provide Nutrition that Heals

As we all heed calls for social distancing to avoid spread of COVID-19, elected officials are looking for ways to support those who are suffering from adverse economic impact. In doing this, it is especially important to focus on those organic family farmers who grow our food and have had their markets disrupted.

Tell Congress to Help Organic Farmers Hurt by the Pandemic

Congress has already passed an $8 billion response package earlier this month and just passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing additional appropriations to address testing, emergency nutrition assistance, temporary paid leave, and increased federal funding for unemployment insurance. Now a much bigger, trillion-dollar economic stimulus bill is in the works.

Ideas for the trillion-dollar spending package are proliferating as fast as the virus. While direct payments to individuals have been mentioned, so have various subsidies to businesses. We need to warn politicians not to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to subsidize large corporations without protections for workers. Rather, our Representatives need to ensure that the money goes to help those who have been directly affected.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree detailed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers in local and regional markets. Noting that trade mitigation payments have not benefited farmers who sell products through local and regional markets, Rep. Pingree urged Speaker Pelosi to take actions to support these farmers, including emergency disaster payments, emergency farm loans, and suspending FSA loan payments. “We should provide emergency disaster payments to farmers selling fresh and minimally processed foods in local and regional markets that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Rep. Pingree.

Organic farmers are among these who have been hardest hit. When asked to provide ideas for how organic farmers could be helped, in addition to the recommendations of Rep. Pingree, many representing organic farmers offer these suggestions:

  • Ensure that farmers markets and farm stands have the same status as retail stores when it comes to social gathering and loss of income.
  • Increase the cost share in organic certification, paid up front, and allow certifiers to waive fees until September
  • Help make connections with local farms when addressing food programs.
  • Establish a program to provide relief workers for sick farmers.
  • Disaster payments should cover both crops not harvested or sold, as well as those that can move to emergency food needs; organic is paid at the organic price.
  • Allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments to be made on-line directly to farms.
  • Provide funds for farms quickly moving to set up “on-farm” stands, curbside pickup, and other direct to consumer “no-touch” distribution channels that minimize interaction as farmers markets may be limited, or even farmers feel unsafe selling at farmers markets.

Tell Congress to Help Organic Farmers Hurt by the Pandemic

Letter to Congress

As we all heed calls for social distancing to avoid spread of COVID-19, we also see the need to support those organic family farmers who grow our food and have had their markets disrupted. Please ensure that the stimulus measures actually help those who need it.

Ideas for a trillion dollar spending package are proliferating as fast as the virus. While direct payments to individuals have been mentioned, so have various subsidies to businesses. Please avoid the temptation to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to subsidize large corporations without protections for workers. Rather, ensure that the money goes to help those who have been directly affected. Please put the money to work where it will help those who have been directly affected.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Chellie Pingree detailed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers in local and regional markets. Noting that trade mitigation payments have not benefited farmers who sell products through local and regional markets, Rep. Pingree urged Speaker Pelosi to take actions to support these farmers, including emergency disaster payments, emergency farm loans, and suspending FSA loan payments. “We should provide emergency disaster payments to farmers selling fresh and minimally processed foods in local and regional markets that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she wrote.

Organic farmers are among these who have been hardest hit. When asked to provide ideas for how organic farmers could be helped, in addition to the recommendations of Rep. Pingree, many representing organic farmers offer these suggestions:

* Ensure that farmers markets and farm stands have the same status as retail stores when it comes to social gathering and loss of income.

* Increase the federal cost share in organic certification, paid up front, and allow certifiers to waive fees until September.

* Help make connections with local farms when addressing food programs.

* Establish a program to provide relief workers to assist sick farmers.

* Disaster payments should cover both crops not harvested or sold, as well as those that can move to emergency food needs; organic is paid at the organic price.

* Allow SNAP payments to be made on-line directly to farms.

* Provide funds for farms quickly moving to set up “on-farm” stands, curbside pickup, and other direct to consumer “no-touch” distribution channels that minimize interaction as farmers markets may be limited, or even farmers feel unsafe selling at farmers markets.

I believe that these targeted suggestions will help all of us by helping farmers to provide the health-giving nutrition we need during these times.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

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  • Archives

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