Statement on the COVID-19 Stimulus Package

SienaPress Room

National Family Farm Coalition statement on the COVID-19 stimulus package currently before Congress:

NFFC is pleased that agriculture is specifically included in the current COVID-19 stimulus package, including significant funding for producers whose local markets have been impacted by the virus. However, we are concerned about the lack of clear directives for how that funding will be allocated, especially leaving those decisions to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). When USDA dispersed funds from the 2019 farmer trade aid package, the agency gave aid to larger-scale operations and corporations and did not support family scale farmers, ranchers, and fishermen or regionally-based farm and food infrastructure. We have grave concerns that these decisions will be repeated in this crisis.

Concentration in the agricultural sector puts our food system and rural communities at risk. We further urge Congress to allocate funding to re-localize food distribution and prioritize economically struggling rural communities through the support of the Local Agriculture Market Program, debt forgiveness for small-scale producers, and access to zero-percent interest operating loans so that producers who have lost access to markets can bridge the gap until those markets reopen.

Commodity farmers are in the sixth year of record-low prices, making them especially vulnerable to economic uncertainty. As a result of the global pandemic, milk futures are plummeting and cattle and grain prices have fallen. If immediate action is not taken for the dairy sector in particular, it will spell the end of the family dairy farm as we know it. The Dairy Margin Coverage Program is a wholly insufficient response to the coming catastrophe in the dairy sector. NFFC instead renews our call for systemic reform of dairy pricing, including a floor price and commonsense supply management for the sector.

See our complete policy asks: COVID-19 Stimulus Package for the Food System.