From the Executive Director: New Fund Will Aid Farmers, Community as Crises Converge
For the last two months, SFA has been convening a team of 40+ farmers, food advocates, funders, nonprofits, and agency folks, loosely called the Local Producer Resiliency Working Group. Its goal is to identify programs, policies and strategies (local, state, national) to help farmers be successful and resilient in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some view this as the seeds of a more robust “Local Food/Little Ag” movement in Minnesota and has been prioritizing assistance to emerging farmers, beginning food producers and those most vulnerable to COVID impacts as well as addressing food system inequities such as meatpacker concentration. Seven teams emerged to identify strategies for change; SFA takes part on the Meatpacking and Livestock team (watch for survey results soon) and the Local Producer Technical Assistance Team.
Another team, led by The Good Acre, has formed the Local Emergency Assistance Farmers Fund, which is designed to purchase locally grown vegetables and fruit from farmers who have lost markets or who are unable to sell all their produce. The fund purchases locally grown food at fair market value and distributes it to local supply chains and food assistance programs.
Thankfully, LEAFF is being expanded to include community needs in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. With the help of other organizations in the aforementioned working group, there are discussions under way to identify ways this nutritious local food can support citizens who need food relief. It is our collective hope that we can work together so that farmers are justly compensated, their food can be distributed to those who most need it, and that taking these steps will help our communities rebuild.
I just made an online contribution to LEAFF. Please do the same. This is a very direct, immediate way to support local farmers who are impacted by COVID-19 and to get safe, nutritious local food to those who need it.
SFA believes that agriculture, done well, heals. There is no more important time to embrace this than today.