Apr. 2020 🐝 Food & Farming Policy News

How is COVID-19 affecting policy? We take a look from all angles.

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Dear Rebecca,

Talk about a time to start as policy director for CFSA! My name is Nick Wood and I’m excited to be joining the team at CFSA. Since this is my first time writing for The Buzz, my intention was to use this space as an opportunity to introduce myself and talk about some longer-term work CFSA is doing around the climate, the work of local food councils, and the upcoming legislative session. But, given how dramatically things have changed in the last few weeks, we’ll leave that for another time.

Farmers, along with many of us, face uncertainties in the coming days that are so numerous that I won’t venture to list them all here. CFSA and our allies have been working around the clock to assure that farmers markets are treated like grocery stores during the crisis, advocating for the inclusion of agriculture in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and working to strengthen sustainable local food systems.

Below are articles about federal aid programs, the health and safety issues farmworkers currently face in North Carolina, an innovative new program in Durham connecting local farmers and restaurants with schools, and a piece on how CFSA farmer-members in South Carolina are adapting to get their products to market.

5f856726-128e-40b6-835c-5cd030e92afb.pngThank you for all that you do,
Nick

Nick Wood, CFSA Policy Director

PS – Don’t miss our map of 150+ farms, Where to Buy Local While Social Distancing: On-Farm Pickups & More!

Mark Your Calendars for May 5, 2020!

One of our incredible donors has agreed to match all gifts to the CFSA fund, dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000, from May 5– 31! Your gift will go twice as far to ensure that CFSA can continue to advocate for our local farms and food system.

IF YOU READ ONE FOOD/FARMING
ARTICLE THIS MONTH…

Here are the top reads from CFSA’s policy team

5e913433-ae75-409b-bc33-59c420841c0b.pngRoland McReynolds, Executive Director

COVID-19 Relief Funds for Farmers

Passed by Congress at the end of March to address some of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, the CARES Act created two programs intended to provide emergency grants and loans to small businesses, including farms: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments.

Within two weeks, the $359 billion the CARES Act invested in these programs ran out, and farms, in particular, had significant challenges even applying.

This week, Congress pumped another $321 billion into PPP and EIDLs, and now farms and food businesses with fewer than 500 employees can apply for these newly-replenished federal emergency relief programs. If your farm or business is in need of emergency funding to weather the COVID-19 crisis, you should contact your bank and local SBA office immediately, as these new funds will disappear just as quickly as the first round. CFSA has published blog posts on PPP and EIDL with more information about who qualifies and how to apply.

Meanwhile, the USDA has published scant details about how it will spend $23.5 billion in COVID-19 relief money set aside for direct payments and other support to farms affected by the crisis. But a preliminary statement last Friday, 4/17, conspicuously failed to mention local food and direct markets, even though Congress specifically stated that the USDA needed to support them with CARES Act farm payments. CFSA joined 750 other organizations in this April 9 letter recommending specific actions the USDA should take to support small farms and local food. We will continue to follow this issue closely.

5f856726-128e-40b6-835c-5cd030e92afb.pngNick Wood, Policy Director

DPS Launches “Durham FEAST” for Families Experiencing Food Insecurity

Schools across NC were ordered to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and indications point to school being out for significantly longer—potentially until the next school year.

More than one million schoolchildren in North Carolina participate in school meal programs daily. For some, meals at school may be the only source of healthy, nutritious foods. This need will grow as more people become unemployed and the economy moves further towards recession. While School Nutrition Services needs emergency funding now, this crisis also reveals the need for long-term systemic change.

The need for resilient, sustainable food systems with local farms providing food for schoolchildren has never been more apparent as COVID-19 threatens the national food distribution system. Farmers and food advocates in Durham are already showing the way forward thanks to a federal program that allows school districts to purchase locally-sourced foods prepared by local restaurants. As we continue to work to transform our food system, this shows a way and is a step in the right direction.

Keep Farmers Markets Open!

We’re fighting to keep farmers markets open. If yours has closed or is at risk of closing, see our COVID-19 Farmers Market Advocacy Toolkit on what you can do.

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Matt Kneece, SC Policy Coordinator

How COVID-19 Is Affecting SC Food Supply and Farmers That Produce It

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 impact on farmers and small-scale agriculture continues to unfold.

Farmers across the Carolinas have been forced to change their way of life and their business to adapt to changing circumstances, and this recent article from the Greenville News does a great job of highlighting what some of these changes have looked like. From launching online sales to expanding CSA deliveries and more, small farms are finding ways to continue getting their products to communities that desperately need them.

I was excited to see the article highlight three CFSA member-farms: Bio-Way Farm and Bethel Trails Farm, both were featured on last year’s Upstate Farm Tour, as well as Greenbrier Farms.

48f0764c-0c36-4389-bb5c-a48f07276134.pngJared Cates, Community Mobilizer

Coronavirus Poses a Threat to a Major NC Food Producer: The Immigrant Farmworker

Farmworkers across the country are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 due to the close working proximity in the field and tight living spaces at migrant farmworker camps.

State health departments and farm labor groups are working to ensure that migrant farm laborers are prepared and protected during the crisis, but resources are limited. State and federal resources are needed to support these workers and to assist farmers in adjusting their practices to ensure farmworker safety.

This article dives into these issues from the perspective of NC workers and workers’ rights groups. You can also check out the Farmworker Advocacy Network website for more information on how you can support field and poultry workers in North Carolina.

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