Last Updated: 6/25/2020
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. Some of our current work includes:
- Supporting farmers markets and farmers whose marketing channels will be impacted by social distancing or school closure.
- RAFI-USA offered emergency mini-grants for farmers who experienced a drastic loss of income as a result of the virus and need immediate assistance for household expenses.
- The Farmers of Color Network awarded farmer grants this spring with consideration of how this grants program could 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
- Navigating COVID-19 Relief for Farmers – this guide provides helpful tips and information for farmers and their families during this crisis and outlines the programs they may be eligible for to support their families and farm businesses
- Coronavirus Food Assistance Program – USDA COVID-19 relief program that provides direct payments to farmers who’ve suffered a price decline due to the pandemic
- Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan – both relief programs are administered through SBA
- Farmer Relief Fund Grants from American Farmland Trust – $1,000 grants for direct marketing farmers, applications due April 23rd
- For Appalachian Grown certified farms, ASAP’s Farmer Immediate Needs Grant is available to help shift farmers business models in response to COVID-19.
For Small Businesses and Communities
- RAFI-USA’s Come to the Table program is awarding $1,000 grants to assist United Methodist churches wtih emergency hunger relief projects that incorporate local farmers or businesses – application cycle currently closed.
- 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.
- 3 Things to Know about Small Business Administration’s support for businesses impacted by coronavirus
- Mountain BizWorks has a list of COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Financing options on their website, including a NC Business loan program.
- The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) launched the Appalachian Grown Farmer Relief Fund to provide direct + immediate assistance so farmers can find new markets, get marketing and financial support through grants or loans, and purchase unsold food for donation to hunger relief programs.
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.
- Farmers’ Guide to Direct Sales Software Platforms – National Young Farmers Coalition
- 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
- CARES Act 101 for Churches – NC Rural Center
- Farmworker “Know Your Rights” resources from North Carolina Justice Center
- 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.