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ICYMI: Pandemic Relief for Farmers and Rural Communities

Update as of January 2022: Much of the funding outlined in this webinar has been spent or allocation windows are now closed. However, federal agencies like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are still allocating billions of dollars to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. You can find more info here about some of the availability opportunities or reach out to us at [email protected]

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.

We convened a webinar with experts and legislators to discuss how to utilize federal American Rescue Plan funding to support farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in your state.

SiX Takeaways from the Pandemic Relief for Farmers and Rural Communities Webinar:

#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.comment period on how to use those funds is open with the USDA now.

#3. Funds are still available from the CARES Act. Your farmer constituents, and others with a stake in the farm and food system, can visit 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.

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.

#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.


If you are a CROP member you can watch the recording of the Pandemic Relief for Farmers and Rural Communities webinar here. Not a CROP member? As a state legislator you can join here.

If you are a state legislator interested in working on issues related to food, agriculture and rural communities reach out to us at [email protected] —we can help!

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.