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Urgent Action: Contact Congress to Support Farms and Local Food in PandemicPrint

Local Food | March 23, 2020 | By Diane Conners

Urgent Action: Contact Congress to Support Farms and Local Food in Pandemic

Health. Economy. Relationship.

Those have been watchwords for Groundwork from the beginning of our work to promote local food economies more than 15 years ago. And we have urgent action we hope you will act upon now, as Congress debates critical COVID-19 aid, which can strengthen all three.

Please act today. We have always made the case that family farmers are as much innovative entrepreneurs as are our shopkeepers on main street and the manufacturers in our industrial parks. They must be included in the supports for small business in the Congressional package. Local food access also is essential for our health and the health of our children, whether at food pantries or in schools. 

And strong relationships are critical in a resilient community as we work to support each other through this crisis in various ways, as you all are likely feeling now. We definitely are feeling it at Groundwork as we connect remotely with our community partners, coworkers, and families. Please support the relationships that we are so fortunate to have with local growers by contacting your representatives and senators in Congress – now.

 

You can find contact info for your members of congress here

Here is a sample message:

Dear (Senator or Congressman)

I am (Name)____________ and I am contacting you to out of concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant impacts to Michigan’s growers and food businesses in our region, including small and mid-size growers who have steadily been building local markets with local consumers, schools, and other civic institutions. We must make sure that we still have access to the fresh local food they grow, that they do not lose markets, and that ongoing market instability does not threaten farmers’ access to credit and their ability to plan for the growing season just underway.

Please make sure the COVID-19 package includes the following:

·       Aid for vulnerable farmers: Provide direct payments to farmers who have lost revenue from local and regional markets due to the crisis.

·       Resources to connect local farmers to families in need: Invest in community-based emergency efforts to buy food from farmers and get it to those who need it most. 

·       Credit to keep farmers in business: Expand farmers’ access to credit and offer debt flexibility to ensure they can plant, grow, and harvest the food we need this year.

·       Clarification from the CDC: Farmers markets should be listed as essential public services because tens of thousands of farmers and millions of consumers rely on them for their livelihood and food access

·       Inclusion of farms as small businesses: Inclusion of direct-to-consumer farmers and farmers markets in the small business COVID-19 relief package currently being negotiated in Congress

·       Relief: Extension of the deadline and waiving of match requirements for the current Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program grant Request for Applications.

 

Thank you,

 

YOUR NAME

YOUR HOME TOWN

 

(Many thanks for much of the bullet point messaging from our friends at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the Farmers Market Coalition.)

 

 

 

 

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