Last Updated: 4/7/2020
How We’re Supporting Impacted Farmers
RAFI-USA staff continue our current work on issues affecting farmers and rural communities. In addition, as the impacts of the coronavirus continue to unfold, we are evaluating what other work may be needed to mitigate the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Current issues we are working on include:
- Supporting farmers markets and farmers whose marketing channels will be impacted by social distancing or school closure
- Check out tips for how farmers market managers can support vendors who need to move to online or home delivery sales.
- Exploring alternative marketing channels that may open up due to emergency food response efforts.
- RAFI-USA will be offering emergency mini-grants for farmers who have experienced a drastic loss of income as a result of the virus and need immediate assistance for household expenses. Please sign up here to receive updates via email, or check our social media channels for updates (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
- Our Farmers of Color Network plans to introduce its farmer grants program this spring. We are evaluating whether there are ways we can adjust this grants program to better meet the needs of farmers given the impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses.
Are you a farmer whose business is impacted by social distancing or other coronavirus mitigation measures? Complete this brief survey to let us know how RAFI-USA can best support your business right now and after the pandemic threat has passed.
Grant & Loan Opportunities
- RAFI-USA emergency mini-grants for NC farmers drastically impacted by COVID-19: the application is not yet live but farmers can sign up to receive updates here.
- Farmer Relief Fund Grants from American Farmland Trust – $1,000 grants for direct marketing farmers, applications due April 23rd
- Emergency $500 mini-grants for independent livestock and poultry farmers – Food Animals Concerns Trust (FACT). Apply Here.
For Small Businesses and Communities
- Natural Capital Investment Fund – COVID-19 Business Grants available for businesses in MD, NJ, NC, OH (Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren Counties), PA, SC, VA, WV and Washington, D.C.
- North Carolina COVID-19 Rapid Recovery for Small Businesses – emergency small business lending program created in partnership with Golden LEAF Foundation Thread Capital, Rural Center, and other NC lenders.
- Apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan – Small Business Administration (nonprofit organizations also eligible)
- 3 Things to Know about Small Business Administration’s support for businesses impacted by coronavirus
- Understanding the Paycheck Protection Program to be administered by the Small Business Administration
- A list of NC Community Grants available in March, April, and May
- No Kid Hungry is offering emergency grants in North Carolina to support local school districts and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to ensure kids get the nutritious food they need.
Webinars and Resources
- Podcast series from Farm Commons about COVID-19’s impacts on farm businesses. Episodes include sick leave on the farm, health screenings, online sales platforms and more.
- Create a Free Online Store for your Farm – PowerPoint Presentation by NC Cooperative Extension educator, Debbie Roos. Includes step-by-step instructions.
- Example of one farm’s plan for continuous operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Economic Impact Assessment: COVID-19 impact on farmers and ranchers selling into local and regional markets
- COVID-19 Farming Resources from NC Cooperative Extension
- A thorough list of resources for farmers related to COVID-19 from the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program. Includes information about food safety, financial assistance, alternative markets, and resources in Spanish.
- New weekly service for NC growers to sell produce for distribution to major retailers – NCDA&CS
For Farmers Market Managers, Farmworkers, and Communities
- Facebook Live webinar regarding the impact of COVID-19 on farm workers communities.
- Guidance for farmers markets from the Farmers Market Coalition
- Webinar on Farmers Markets Physical Redesign for Covid-19 Mitigation – April 6, 3pm EST. Register Here
- Community garden guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic – NC A&T, Cooperative Extensions
- Where to Buy Local: map of farms in NC and SC providing on-farm, pick-up, or home delivery sales, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
- Meat Suite is a website designed to help consumers in NY and NC find locally produced, high quality meats in bulk
- Connect with local farms using the Visit NC Farm App and arrange for curbside pickup or delivery of seasonal products
Official Guidance & Resources
- NC Department of Agriculture has activated a hotline for questions not answered by online resources. Callers are encouraged to first check the website as most information is available online. The toll-free number is 1-866-747-9823 (M-F, 8am-5pm). Questions and concerns can also be emailed to [email protected]
- NC Farmers Markets are classified as groceries and may remain open
- NC Work Authorization Letter – this document signed by Steve Troxler, NC Commissioner of Agriculture, designates food and agriculture workers as essential workers. Completing this letter template will exempt eligible employees from ‘stay-at-home’ travel restrictions. En español
- NC State resource sheet for U-Pick farms
- NC State resource sheet for farmers markets
- Changes to NC unemployment insurance due to coronavirus from NC Department of Commerce
- Local Farmers’ Markets Do Their Part to Flatten the Curve on Coronavirus – Debbie Roos, Extension Agent, Chatham County, NC
For Communities and Organizations
- Resources and Engagement Opportunities for Organizations Supporting Under-Served Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic – developed by the NC Inclusive Disaster Recovery (NCIDR) network
- Find Kids Meal programs available in your North Carolina county
- Coronavirus Communications: Examples, guidance, and resources for expanding the narrative
- Community and Faith-based leaders can check out this guidance from the CDC
- Food Safety Best Practices for Home, Community, and Retail Food Environments and Farms (English and Spanish) – NC State Extension
Ways to Help
- Donate to RAFI-USA: with your support we can continue to adapt our programming and policy advocacy to support farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities impacted by COVID-19
- List of requested donations for NC farmworkers impacted by COVID-19, Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry
- Firsthand Foods Community Fund – Effort to raise $8,000 in 60 days to donate meat to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC
In an effort to do our part for social distancing, RAFI-USA staff are working remotely until further notice. Events and meetings that were scheduled have been cancelled or postponed. Due to our flexible work from home policy, RAFI-USA staff are equipped to continue most of our work remotely.