July Policy Update and Call to Action

By: Ben Feldman       Posted On: July 21, 2020

Coronavirus Relief

In May the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act. At that time, FMC began calling on our members to contact Senate offices and ask for support for farmers market operators as part of their relief package. While the Senate has been slow to move so far, it now appears that the Senate may move quickly to have a package completed before the end of the month when existing unemployment benefits are set to expire. Now is our last opportunity to ask the senate to take care of farmers markets and the farmers who sell at them. Use our sample call/email script below to take action in support of farmers markets!

Appropriations Update

Earlier this month the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee passed an appropriations bill for FY 2021 that includes an increase to $20 million in funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program.  The increase was a policy proposal spearheaded by FMC that included 101 members of the house signing on in support of the increase. The bill is expected to be voted on in the house later this week. While the timeline in the Senate is unclear, advocacy efforts by FMC and our policy partners have also resulted in a strong showing of support in the Senate.

Call to Action

Dear Senator _______,

(IDENTIFY YOURSELF, YOUR LOCATION, AND YOUR CONNECTIONS TO FARMERS MARKETS. FOR EXAMPLE: “My name is Johnny Appleseed. I’m a resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana and I run 3 farmers markets in the city.”)

As Senate considers another pandemic relief package, I want to make sure you know that across the country and in _______(your state), farmers markets operators — the organizations and individuals who plan, coordinate, and run America’s farmers markets — are engaging in herculean efforts to protect their communities from COVID-19. But even as interest in local foods spikes nationwide, many market operators face the double threat of increased costs to operate during a pandemic in addition to declining income. To make matters worse, many aren’t eligible for federal relief efforts to date. If these vital institutions close, farmers will go bankrupt and consumers will go hungry.

For these reasons I would like to highlight three key ways the Senate can bolster farmers markets, protect the livelihood of farmers, and ensure consumers of all income levels have access to the best food America has to offer:

Grants for farmers and farmers market operators to cover increased costs associated with protecting farmers, farmers market staff and shoppers from COVID-19. To that end we ask that you support the Food Supply Protection Act (S.3840).

Expand eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program to all non-profit types under Internal Revenue Code 501(c). To date only 501(c)3s have been eligible but many market operators are other types.

Increase SNAP benefits, increase funding for healthy food through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, and expand online SNAP access. The last of which can be achieved through the Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020 (S. 4202).

Thank you for listening to why I think support of our local food systems is vital for a healthy recovery, and I look forward to the Senate taking direct action to support farmers markets nationwide.