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Commentary on COVID-19 and the Food System authored by the Farmers Market Coalition for the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Farmers Market Coalition urges federal, state, and local leaders to protect our nation’s food producers and farmers markets through federal stimulus and clear operational guidelines
Washington, D.C., March 18, 2020 – Congress is close to passing its second multi-billion dollar stimulus package and is hard at work on a third – this one focused on small businesses. As a national nonprofit organization providing support to 1,200 market organizations representing nearly half of all farmers markets in the United States, Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) urges Congress to ensure that the next stimulus package explicitly includes support for family farm businesses and farmers markets. Farmers markets are a vital economic force in America, both locally and nationally, accounting for $711 million in sales annually. By providing much-needed relief in the next stimulus package, Congress can keep the economic engine of America’s farmers markets humming, while also providing much needed food access to consumers across the country.
“Farmers markets deserve to be included in the federal aid package.” said Ben Feldman, Executive Director of FMC. “Unfortunately, neither of the first two packages are guaranteed to provide aid to American farmers who sell directly to the public, nor to the communitybased organizations who operate farmers markets. Farmers are America’s original small businesspeople, and farmers markets are an essential food access point for communities seeking fresh, healthy food – in particular for low-income families who are able to access the freshest fruits and vegetables through markets’ SNAP EBT and WIC programs.”
“COVID: What Can Government Officials Learn from Farmers Market Managers?”
Farmers markets operate on a few simple principles:
- They connect locally produced crafts and foods with consumers.
- They are places consumers practice community.
- They convey information and opportunities people will discover and make their own.
For generations, marketplaces have contributed to the community in many ways:
- Promoted individual and public health,
- Served as conduits for information and healthy food,
- Offered opportunities for exercise and social life,
- Provided learning opportunities for immigrants and every other sector of a community.
“Farmers markets are vital during COVID-19, but they need more support”
- FULFILLING ESSENTIAL HEALTH AND ECONOMIC NEEDS
- ADAPTING TO PUBLIC HEALTH REALITIES
- FARMERS MARKETS NEED MORE SUPPORT