Take Action!

Farmers and Advocates – Take Action NOW on the Next Pandemic Aid Package!

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has triggered enormous and inequitable impacts to our nation’s farm and food systems, and as the number of cases continues to rise, it is clear that major action is needed to stem these impacts and build toward long-term recovery. The lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers, workers, and families are on the line.

Now is the time to make sure that farmers, ranchers, and the innovative food and farm businesses building resilient local and regional food systems get the support they need to continue feeding our communities, paying their employees, and responding rapidly to emergency needs. In any broader stimulus or farm recovery package, we need immediate action that prioritizes those most harmed by the pandemic and bolsters the resilience and capacity of the local and regional food systems working to meet community needs.

In the next pandemic aid package, Congress must include:

  • Targeted direct support for producers left out of current aid programs, especially diversified farmers, direct to consumer farmers, and farmers of color.
  • Investments to strengthen the safety, capacity and resilience of local and regional food systems – including processors, distributors, markets, and emergency food sites. 
  • Expanded access to food for all – and more opportunities for independent producers to provide food for their communities 
  • Transparent, disaggregated data and strong oversight of aid spending to ensure equity
  • Prevention of foreclosure and farm loss through automatic loan deferment, forbearance, and debt relief 
  • Improved food and farm worker protections to support the safety of essential workers

The Senate is working on a new pandemic aid package this week – and the first draft shared by Senate leadership is NOT GOOD ENOUGH (the House passed its aid bill already!). This week is our best window for action to ensure the next pandemic aid bill responds to critical food and farm issues. 

Ready to take action? Call your Senators now! Here’s how:

  1. Click here to find your Senator’s phone number.
  2. Prefer email? We’ve got you covered!
  3. Pick a couple of the asks from the bulleted list below to discuss — whichever ones are most relevant to you/your work or that you’re most passionate about.
  4. Make the call! Here’s a sample script:

Hi, my name is [your name] and I’m a constituent [also let them know if you’re a farmer, food systems professional, etc.]. I’d like to share a message with [Senator _____] to ensure that the next pandemic aid bill responds to critical food and farm issues.

I encourage [Senator _____] to support … [choose one or more of the important issues below!]

We are counting on [Senator _____] to stand with our this nation’s farmers, workers and families by prioritizing those most harmed by the pandemic and bolstering the resilience and capacity of the local and regional food systems working to meet community needs.

  • Direct Aid for Producers
    • ASK for your Senator – please support direct aid for farmers who have been shut out of the current CFAP program, especially diversified farmers, direct to consumer farmers, and farmers of color, and help farmers cover necessary costs to pivot and retool their operations in response to the ongoing pandemic.
  • Investments in the Resilience of Local and Regional Food Systems
    • ASK for your Senator – Please include the Food Supply Protection Act, S.3840 in any aid package!
  • Access to Food for All
    • ASK for your Senator – Please include the Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020, S.4202 / H.R.7535 in any aid package!
  • Data Transparency
    • ASK for your Senator – please ensure USDA provides transparent data to ensure aid is distributed equitably.
  • Stop Farm Losses 
    • ASK for your Senator – please require USDA to use all tools possible to reduce farm loss and defaults, including debt relief, automatic loan deferment and forbearance, equitable relief provisions, and flexible and emergency access to credit.
  • Protect Food and Farm Workers
    • ASK for your Senator – please ensure essential farm and food workers have the protection and workplace support they need for their health and safety.

FARMERS – Share Your CFAP Experience

Starting May 26, USDA’s Farm Service Agency began accepting applications through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for direct aid payments to agricultural producers affected by price declines and additional marketing costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While NSAC is glad to see much-needed relief begin to flow to farmers, there are several shortcomings in the program that make it difficult for some farmers to seek relief. Our analysis confirms the program is not set up to serve all farmers experiencing impacts equitably. We expect the program to work best for operations with the simplest production systems selling into commodity and wholesale markets, making it especially tough for diversified farms and farmers selling into local/regional markets.

In addition, there are no set-asides or targeted funds for producers historically underserved by USDA, and we’re already hearing reports of language access challenges in the field.

While NSAC will continue to keep pressure on the Administration and Congress to #dobetterUSDA to provide targeted relief to producers left out, we will also be closely monitoring the rollout of this new program and ensuring farmers have the information they need to make informed decisions on whether this program is a fit for their farm.

Want to know if CFAP is right for you? Use our CFAP 101 page to learn more about the program, eligibility, payment calculations, payment case studies, and how to apply. We will be updating this page frequently as new information and resources become available. More resources from NSAC members and partners coming soon!

Are you running into issues? If you are experiencing difficulty with the application process, are being met with confusion or resistance from FSA, or are encountering any other barriers to application, please let us know. This will help us identify and fill in gaps in outreach and technical assistance, hold USDA accountable, and fight for better programming in future aid packages. Please fill out this Farmer Feedback Form created in partnership with Farm Aid to submit your questions and concerns about the program.

If you would like additional resources for troubleshooting issues or would like to speak to someone directly, please refer to the CFAP 101 page.