American Farmland Trust Thanks Congress for Heeding the Call to Include Most Vulnerable Farmers in the Stimulus Bill
This statement can be attributed to Tim Fink, AFT policy director
With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, AFT worked diligently with Congress to include relief for farmers and ranchers engaged in direct sales as part of the stimulus package. AFT has focused on these producers, believing them to be the most immediately impacted as “social distancing” policies and the closure of restaurants, schools, farmers markets, and other institutions keep them from selling to their usual customers. As AFT worked on stimulus provisions, we also launched a Farmer Relief Fund. The fund will provide quick cash to eligible farmers to help them reach customers in new ways. One hundred percent of funds raised will go directly to farmers.
As many groups have noted, direct-market producers accounted for $2.8 billion in total sales in 2017 and 85% are classified as small farms. While Congress has improved the safety net for many of these farms through whole farm revenue protection, this insurance plan is relatively new and not yet widely adopted. Additionally, most do not qualify for the recent market facilitation payments. This is a critical time of year for these farmers – the beginning of planting season – a time when little money is coming in and much is going out.
We are grateful to the Congress for heeding the call from our organization, our members, and many allied groups to include these farmers and ranchers. We trust the House will rapidly pass the stimulus bill. This legislation will help producers and all those suffering from economic challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, the Senate bill delivered on two key items deemed essential:
- $9.5 billion to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This includes producers of specialty crops and those that supply local food systems, farmers markets, restaurants, and schools. It also can be used to support livestock and dairy producers.
- $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, which helps stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices. This is the same instrument used by the Administration to provide the market facilitation payments to farmers to offset losses due to recent tariffs.
AFT remains committed to advocating for farmers and ranchers throughout this crisis, raising money to support them directly and ensuring that they are included in broader government relief efforts. Additionally, while AFT recognizes the immediate crisis for small, direct-sales farmers, AFT understands that this is a period of uncertainty for all farmers and ranchers regardless of size or market.
We will continue to work with the Hill and with the Administration on this disaster relief as it rolls out, including identifying ways to specifically support those in direct sales.
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.