RELEASE: Leading food companies request federal support for young farmers and farmers of color


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Jessica Manly, Communications Director, National Young Farmers Coalition
press@youngfarmers.org, 518-643-3564 x 722

 

Leading food companies request federal support for young farmers and farmers of color

Amy’s Kitchen, Applegate, Chipotle, Clif Bar & Company, Kashi, Niman Ranch, Sweetgreen, and Unilever support Young Farmers’ recommendations for implementation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The future of agriculture could be threatened if young farmers and farmers of color are not considered by USDA.

 

Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2020) – Leading food companies sent a letter today to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought voicing concern about the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on farming communities and requesting equitable distribution of CARES Act funds to our nation’s young farmers and farmers of color.

Amy’s Kitchen, Applegate, Chipotle, Clif Bar & Company, Kashi, Niman Ranch, Sweetgreen, and Unilever have signed-on in support of the National Young Farmers Coalition’s recommendations for implementation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). They warned that CFAP could jeopardize the long-term viability of their supply chains if no specific consideration is made for the nation’s young and beginning farmers and USDA-designated “socially disadvantaged farmers” who are particularly vulnerable to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

There has never been a more important moment to support the future of our food system. As our nation grapples with the human and economic toll of COVID-19, we can’t afford to lose a generation of farmers who provide an essential service to our communities. Our nation’s young farmers already faced serious barriers to their success before the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis only compounds their challenges. With the average age of farmers approaching 60 years old and increasing each agricultural census, action must be taken now to avoid a repeat of the 1980’s farm crisis that led to a missing generation in agriculture.

“We know the next generation of farmers can deliver on a food system that puts our public health first,” said Martin Lemos, Co-Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition. “We’ve seen dedicated young people across the country build new and innovative farm enterprises that prioritize community health, ecological stewardship, and local economic development. Their success will determine whether we have a future food system that is resilient, healthy, and equitable – a food system that works for all of us. New and beginning farmers and farmers of color are essential to providing us with a healthy food system now and for decades to come. We won’t have a lasting or successful recovery without relief packages that invest in their innovation, resilience, and dedication.”

The National Young Farmers Coalition’s recommendations to make CFAP accessible, available, and designed to support our nation’s farm future include:

 

  • Set-asides for new and beginning farmers and socially-disadvantaged farmers so that these producers can fairly compete for available funds
  • A payment option that recognizes the importance of diversified, direct-market farmers and ensures their participation in the program. Specifically, the Coalition recommends disbursement of funds for producers with annual revenues of $300,000 or less to receive a minimum payment of 25% of their annual revenue, with a maximum payment of $25,000. For farmers who are able to show clear documentation of losses, a payment of 50% of losses up to $100,000.
  • Prioritized outreach by USDA to young and beginning farmers and farmers of color who have limited knowledge of the agency and its programs

 

Leading food companies recognize that while their companies and the farmers they source from are an important part of the food industry, they do not constitute the entire food chain. Our nation’s current and future food security also depends on local food producers and burgeoning farm businesses led by enterprising young people. The National Young Farmers Coalition calls on USDA to take this opportunity to invest in our nation’s young farmers and ranchers and farmers of color who are ready to serve their country.

The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) is an advocacy network of farmers fighting for the future of agriculture. Visit Young Farmers on the web at www.youngfarmers.org, and on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram

 

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