A Message from Edna Rodriguez, RAFI-USA’s Executive Director

We at RAFI-USA want you to know that during this difficult time, we are still here and we are still working. In this time of uncertainty, our work continues to remind us of the importance of our interconnectedness and community.

Our staff continues carrying out our programs, while also responding to a crisis unlike any we’ve seen in recent times. The COVID-19 pandemic creates unprecedented challenges and has exposed a fragile and flawed food system that is deeply inequitable. For decades, we have worked to push back against public policies that have created such extreme inequalities. It is nearly impossible for the small and mid-scale farmer to make an honest living. We continue to fight with an increased sense of urgency, recognizing that crisis moments also provide the opportunity for dramatic change. This is why our policy work is an integral focus of ours right now.

More and more consumers are now paying attention to issues within our inequitable food system, as there have been outbreaks at meat processing plants and because of concerns over food supply issues. We have been growing our base to include partnerships with organizations that represent workers. We have spent the last three decades shifting the narrative of blame for our corporate system from the individual farmer to the corporations. Both farmers and workers are at the mercy of corporations who focus on their own bottom line, rather than corporate responsibility and public health.

Local food has come to the rescue, when supply chains faltered. Farmers are tapping into a lifelong practice of resourcefulness and their DIY spirit to adapt to the crisis by finding new ways to market and sell. Cooperation, a vital component to our work, remains ever present and expanding.

As the impacts of the coronavirus continue to unfold, we will continue to evaluate what work may be needed to mitigate the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Right now, we’re providing producers and farmers’ markets with grants to help meet needs during the crisis. This coming week, we’re mailing 120 emergency assistance grants to farmers in NC. In collaboration with Farm Aid, we will be extending this grant program to support farmers in South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida. We’re also providing funding to churches in our Come to the Table network for food distribution from local producers and food entrepreneurs. In addition to financial support, we’re providing technical assistance in support of innovative efforts to adapt to the crisis.

Sadly, some of our program events have been put on hold to concentrate on the more urgent matters, yet we also acknowledge that there is still hopeful and crucial work taking place.

Thank you for your continued support. You make this work possible.

In solidarity,

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