California Agriculture: Confronting a New Reality

Supporting our farmers, protecting our food source

During this challenging time, American Farmland Trust wanted to reach out to our partners and friends around the state of California. We sincerely hope that everyone is keeping well. The Coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly changing situation, and AFT is committed to helping to protect the healthy fresh food sources that feed us in California and the nation.

While many Americans are sheltering in place, millions of others are working behind the scenes to grow, harvest, distribute, and prepare our foods safely and effectively for our communities. Let’s all work to support and respect these workers by allowing them to do their jobs safely.

Farmers’ Markets are Essential: AFT salutes California Governor Newsom’s commitment to public health and safety regarding the COVID-19 virus. The state recognizes California’s 750 certified farmers’ markets are essential public services, rather than special events. These markets are important for keeping small- and mid-scale farmers in business, so they can supply fresh foods to our communities. The California Department of Health has developed safety guidelines, which we encourage everyone to follow.

Local Food Resources: Residents of California can help farmers continue to feed us by supporting them with farm stand purchases, home deliveries of farm goods, and Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, memberships. Also, consider buying gift certificates for future meals at your favorite restaurants. For more ideas, our friends over at Kitchen Table Advisors have put together a list of local food resources in different areas of the state.

Make It Easier to Sell Direct: AFT understands the importance to public health in supplying a reliable source of fresh foods from the nation’s leading agricultural state. We support technical and direct financial assistance from the state to develop new, more efficient systems that ensure family farms and local distributors can continue to sell their goods directly and safely to the public now. This would be an important step towards protecting the state’s largest economic sector and ensuring a resilient and valuable food source for the nation.

Supporting Our Farmers and Local Food Systems: With AFT’s programs in the state – such as Women for the Land, Underserved Farmer Outreach, Soil Health Bottom Line, and Agricultural Land Protection – we are rethinking how to continue to provide helpful conservation technical resources to farmers and partners. We recognize the new reality means our advisory support will come in new forms that leverage technology and strategies that provide value to farmers, without relying on face-to-face contact. AFT is adopting the same innovative approach with our active policy advocacy work at the California State Capitol and nationally. We want to assure you that we are ready for the challenge.

At American Farmland Trust, we greatly value our partners and friends throughout the state of California. This community enhances our passion for our work, and we cherish your continuous support. We wish your family and friends good health, resilience, and strength during this time.

About the Author
Kara Heckert

California Regional Director

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