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Last Day to Submit Comments: 3/31! Let the USDA Know What Local Food Systems Need for COVID-19 Response

Last week we shared information about two listening sessions that the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted on how to implement $1.5 billion which Congress authorized last December. This week we are sharing some tips for how to submit a comment on the same topic. Comments are due by midnight on March 31, 2021.

Are you a farmer or farmers market manager? Do you run a food pantry or feeding ministry? USDA is asking for feedback, and this is where your experience working in the food system comes in!

This funding could prove a huge benefit for local and regional food systems, the people who work in them, and the people they feed, but much depends on how the funds are implemented. 

In December 2020, Congress authorized $1.5 billion for 

  1. grants/loans to small/mid-sized food processors/distributors, farmers markets, producers, or other organizations to respond to coronavirus, including funds for measures to protect workers against COVID–19. This program could set precedent for future funding and programs.
  2. the purchase and distribution of food and agricultural products, including seafood, fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to individuals in need. This will likely be a new or updated version of the CFAP Farm to Families food box program which USDA implemented with COVID-19 relief funds in 2020.

Check out the links below for some pre-drafted sample comments, with spaces to add your own voice and experiences; or, keep scrolling for guidance on how to write your own comment from scratch.

Grants program sample comment for farmers

Grants program sample comment for farmers market managers and volunteers

Grants program sample comment for food pantry or feeding ministry staff and volunteers

CFAP Food Box program sample comment for food pantry or feeding ministry staff and volunteers

Want to write your own comment from scratch? Here are some tips:

  • Thank the agency for the opportunity to comment.
  • Share who you are, and what kind of experience is leading you to write the comment — why you care, and how this issue has or could impact you.
  • State your most important point at both the beginning and the end of your comment.
  • Illustrate why your points are important based on your personal experience or knowledge.
  • Remember, your own relation to this issue is all the expertise you need!
  • You can submit your comment directly on the AMS site. AMS has listed some questions they are particularly interested in, but if there are other issues you feel are important within the scope of the comment topic, you can share those too.

Thanks for being an advocate for local food systems!