COVID Package for Farmers Markets

By: Ben Feldman, Executive Director       Posted On: January 4, 2021

In a flurry of activity at the end of the year, the federal government passed both a COVID relief package and the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations bill. While these activities were a long time in the coming, both include important victories for farmers and farmers market operators. 

The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 provides important but limited increases to federal nutrition programs and nearly $10 billion dollars “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing direct support to, and purchasing food and agricultural products, including seafood, from, agricultural producers and food processors impacted by coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers and growers who produce livestock or poultry under a contract for another entity, for other food purchases, and for grants and loans to small or midsized food processors or distributors, seafood processing facilities and processing vessels, farmers markets, producers, or other organizations for measures to protect workers against COVID–19.

While the mechanics of how the $10 billion will roll out remains unclear, there are also other, specific provisions that reflect the Farmers Market Coalition’s policy goals, including:

  • $100 million in additional funds with reduced match (10%) requirements for the Local Agricultural Market Program (LAMP), which includes the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Grants. 
  • $75 million in additional funds to the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program.
  • Organizations designated as 501(c)6s who are not primarily lobbying organizations are now eligible for PPP loans. Unfortunately 501(c)4 and 501(c)5 were not added to the eligibility criteria.
  • Directs USDA Food and Nutrition Service to develop an online SNAP purchasing pilot for farmers markets and farmers.

In addition to the Coronavirus relief package, the FY21 appropriations bill provides an increase in funding for the WIC FMNP program to $21 million. This something that FMC advocated for this past year as part of our farmer/market manager fly in and through sign on letters among members of congress. The Local Agriculture Marketing Program (LAMP) also received an additional $100 million in funding, including for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Grants. 

For more information about how the COVID package will impact agriculture and nutrition more broadly, please refer to the recent blog post from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition