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Pandemic Relief for Farmers and Rural Communities

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 contains more than $10 billion for the food and agriculture sectors. This includes significant funding for food purchase and distribution and food processing infrastructure at the state and local level, as well as debt relief and support for socially disadvantaged farmers.

Federal spending on agriculture and food systems directly supports public health, local economies, and independent and historically marginalized farmers and ranchers.

An important note:

This relief package is going to help so many Americans, in all districts. The bill passed because of Georgia voters, and last night, Georgia voters were disenfranchised in stunning ways by their own elected officials. State Rep. Park Cannon was arrested for knocking on the Governor’s door while he signed the bill, which requires voter ID, shortens early voting, and more, all in an effort to keep Black voters from the polls. Rep Cannon has called on all of us to speak out in our opposition to racist voter suppression, so we’re encouraging legislators in our network to make statements of solidarity with Georgia voters. You can amplify her voice and stand with her.

Six Takeaways from SiX

1. It’s time to dust off your old plans and breathe new life into great ideas! There are unrestricted funds flowing to states from the American Rescue Act.

2. There are $3.6 billion in discretionary funds coming from the American Rescue Act to be used directly for agriculture and food related programs. A comment period on how to use those funds is open with the USDA now.

3. Your farmer constituents, and others with a stake in the farm and food system, can visit farmers.gov for immediate access to relief, including significant funding still available through the CARES Act.

4. There is $5 billion allocated in direct support for socially disadvantaged farmers including debt relief. Here is more information about who qualifies and how to access those resources.

5. Be sure you are engaging with local food and farm organizations in your area, not just the ones that can afford lobbyists. If you need help finding them, call us!

6. Work with local governments. Initiate the conversation by pulling together county elected officials, your local USDA representative and your State Department of Agriculture. The American Rescue Act is also a great opportunity to think about matching grants. See what Michigan is doing.

Resources

Watch the webinar

Contact our panelists:

American Rescue Act

How to Comment on the AMS COVID Stimulus | Agricultural Marketing Service

AMS COVID Stimulus | Agricultural Marketing Service

USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers

USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers

Get the stats:

  • The top 10% of US farmers received 60% of the covid payments, while the bottom 10% received 0.26 percent.
  • 99% went to white farmers and 1% to socially disadvantaged farmers, including just .1% of the covid payments to Black farmers, who have been subject to systemic discrimination by USDA for decades.

Sign up for the CROP!

The Cohort for Rural Opportunity and Prosperity (CROP) serves as a virtually convening space for legislators who are working on policies that promote healthy and thriving rural communities through ecologically and socially-responsible agriculture and local, direct-market food systems.