What happened last week

What we’re seeing on the ground + resources you can use
Dear Rebecca,
I apologize we didn’t get this out to you on Friday in keeping with our normal schedule—we know the value of consistency during this inconsistent time, but we have been urgently focused on helping to make sure U.S. farmers get treated fairly in federal relief measures. This great injustice unfolding is that farmers like you can only access funds to cover payroll, while every other small business can apply for a $10,000 forgivable loan. We’re continuing to work on this and welcome your help (more below)—more pressure is definitely needed on our legislators.
Globally, it appears there are some good numbers coming out, but here in North America we have not yet reached the coronavirus peak and testing in the U.S. remains insufficient. We have to assume for the next 4-6 weeks at least, things will continue much as they are now. On the business end, if you haven’t already, please read our blog, Julie and we’ll do our best to help.
On the Marketing and Outreach end, our new Marketplace site is doing well—we invite anyone and everyone seeking or selling AGW-certified products to use it freely. We know keeping the market for sustainable products intact through this crisis will make coming out of it so much less daunting. We’re also working on other ideas to keep up demand for folks that need it, and welcome your input, too. Our Marketing and Outreach team are looking for restaurants and retailers who are going above and beyond to keep your products in their stores—please share these stories with your Outreach Coordinator so we can make sure they get told. We’re continuing our video interview series, most recently with Ronald Simmons of Master Blend Family Farms, who underscores the priority of making sure no one goes hungry during this crisis and says, wisely, “I know it’s hard right now, keep your your head up, keep doing what we do, be proud of what you do, and just know that the rest of the country hears you. We’re all in this thing together.”
Now to policy. We have been incredibly disappointed with both the pace and scope of support for independent farms. The USDA has issued the following guidance here which on first glance we think just leads to their existing programs. That said, some of them may be useful to you and we encourage you to take a look if you’re in need. We are also asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to relax the requirement for registering for a Farm Service Agency number in person, which for obvious reasons is not feasible right now.
Looking ahead, we are keeping our eye on potential impacts for slaughter plants and processing in general. Two major plants have closed, and there are concerns this will impact pricing and availability. While panic buying has in some cases been good for business for many direct-marketing farms, long-term market instability is difficult to plan around (back to the blog above). We’ve added new resources to the COVID-19 Collected Resources for Farmers page, including a great link from our friends at the American Association of Meat Processors. Please continue to share resources that should be included here.
Farmers are used to hardship, but this is an unprecedented time so don’t wait to reach out for help if you need it. The measures we’re all taking right now are difficult, but it’s helping. We will get through this together.
With my best wishes for you and yours,
Andrew Gunther
Executive Director
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