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A Call To Action: Local Farms Need COVID-19 Relief, Need Your Support

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In a phone call received from Stacy Finley, Director of Winnsboro Parks and Recreation, KSST was informed of a Call to Action in support of a bill going from the House of Representatives to the US Senate within the near future. The bill, currently HR 8096, was introduced in an effort to help small and mid-scale farms, black, indigenous and persons of color producers, farmers markets and local food businesses to cope with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. With enough support, the bill would become the Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act, to help provide relief funds for small farmers within the next Stimulus Package. Persons living in the NE Texas area and across the State of Texas are urged to show support for the bill by contacting the Senators which represent their area.

Part of Stacy’s job is to operate and maintain a weekly Farmer’s Market in downtown Winnsboro, and this Spring and Summer it has ballooned into a very well attended market. this As a farmer herself and a member of the small-farm community in Wood, Franklin and Hopkins Counties, her interest in helping farmers extends beyond the weekly downtown market. According to Stacy, ‘there are strides being made to look out for small farms during this pandemic, and a quick phone call from each of us could really help secure relief to be set aside for local producers. These type of calls, like our votes, can truly make a difference! The Farmers Market Coalition, a national advocate for small producers like many of us, has sent a sample message that you can leave for our Texas Senators, urging them to support small farms.” Stacy forwarded a Call to Action which might help the plight of small farms during the COVID-19 pandemic, if legislators can hear the voice of voters. The Call to Action is reproduced below, as well as a link to reach your two U.S. Senators by phone. Included also is a script to make your phone call or recorded message simple and straightforward. The script could also be used as a basis for an e-mail to your Senator’s office.

Local Farms Need COVID-19 Relief
The majority of farmers selling local foods have suffered severe market disruptions due to COVID-19.

U.S. Representative Alma Adams (NC-12) introduced the Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (HR 8096) in the House of Representatives. The bill is a comprehensive approach to help small and mid-scale farms, farmers markets, and local food businesses cope with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act would:Create a COVID-19 relief payment program for farmers, who sell in local and regional markets, based on their lost revenue. Ensure Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) producers and low-income communities of color receive equitable access to COVID-19 relief programs.Provide emergency response grants for farmers markets and local food enterprises to implement public health protections and COVID-19-friendly marketing practices.Invest in the restoration and enhancement of local and value-added agriculture markets.Time is running out to get this proposal included in the COVID-19 stimulus package being negotiated in Congress right now. Your voice can make a critical difference and help keep local farms in business.

Call your two U.S. senators and urge them to support local food in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill by introducing a Senate version of the Local and Regional Farms and Markets Support Act.

Find your senators:

Here is a script you may use (adapt as you like):

“Hello, my name is _________ and I am a constituent and a voter (tell them if you’re a farmer!).
I’m calling to urge you to support small and mid-scale local farms in the next COVID-19 relief package. Three out of four small farms are losing significant income because restaurant, farmers market, and agritourism sales have shrunk due to the pandemic. Many local farms in our community will be out of business by the end of the year if they don’t get targeted relief in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Current USDA programs pay local farmers just pennies per pound on the crops they produce, which doesn’t come close to the losses local farms are suffering. The Local and Regional Farms and Markets Support Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives as House Bill 8096. Please introduce a Senate companion to House Bill 8096 so our local farms can receive the support that meets their needs in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Thank you for your time.”

If your call is routed to an answering machine, please leave a message. It will make a difference!

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Author: Enola Gay

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