As farmers, ranchers, their employees and other people in the food supply chain, continue to cope with the impact of market shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Farm Bureau Federation welcomed the recent announcement of aid to farms and food banks from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The entire rural economy has been affected by the sudden, severe shift in demand we’ve seen since the stay-at-home orders went into place,” Federation President Jamie Johansson said. “Farmers, ranchers, food processors and others along the food chain are working as rapidly as we can to be sure the food we produce can be redirected from restaurants, schools and other food service outlets to retail stores, where the demand has moved.”
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program announced by USDA will include $16 billion in direct assistance to farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses related to the pandemic and another $3 billion in purchases of food for distribution to food banks and other nonprofits.
“Aid to farmers and ranchers will benefit the entire rural economy, allowing farmers to continue hiring employees, purchasing essential supplies and keeping food and farm products flowing to the marketplace,” Johansson said, “and it’s important at the same time to be sure food reaches people who need it.”
USDA said it has yet to establish how farmers and ranchers can qualify for the program.
“The assistance for farmers and ranchers must be distributed quickly and fairly, with enough safeguards to assure it reaches the appropriate people,” Johansson said. “We understand that can be a difficult balance, and we will continue to offer USDA our best advice on how to make this aid package as effective as possible for farmers, ranchers and all the people who depend on them.”
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.