AFT Applauds Bipartisan Relief and Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – American Farmland Trust applauds Congress for the passage of a bipartisan COVID relief and appropriations bill. We believe that this legislation will provide much-needed support to farmers and ranchers and to many others who are struggling during this pandemic. AFT greatly appreciates the $26 billion in agriculture and nutrition relief, and Congress’ continued acknowledgment of the needs of local and regional markets.
AFT was especially pleased to see several specific provisions within the relief package. These include $100 million for the Local Agricultural Marketing Program (LAMP) to help develop local farmers markets and food businesses, as well as $75 million for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentives Program (GusNIP) Program to incentivize SNAP participants to purchase fruits and vegetables from farmers markets. In April, AFT requested that Congress support these programs as part of COVID relief, and is pleased that this round of funding offered this critical support.
In addition, the bill provides support to expand the ability of SNAP recipients to make online purchases, including from farmers markets and direct-to-consumer sellers. In July, we released a statement supporting similar legislation. AFT was also pleased to see additional funding for Conservation Operations as well as for the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) program which helps support socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
However, more relief will be needed during the next Congress. AFT believes that additional support for state and local governments is essential to ensure that funds are not diverted from state and local agricultural programs to offset Covid-related deficits. In September, AFT released a statement highlighting what might happen to state agricultural programs without this additional relief. We look forward to working with the new Congress to ensure that this funding becomes a reality.