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Source: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition news release

Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) introduced The Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (Local Farmer Act) H.R. 8096 to provide meaningful support to farmers, ranchers, and critical local and regional food systems businesses.

In the face of ongoing pandemic impacts, local and regional food systems - including farmers markets, food hubs, and farmers and ranchers selling locally - have generated rapid innovations and business model pivots and proven to be one of the most resilient, effective ways to get healthy food to families in need. But they've done so largely without federal support, and thousands of farmers continue to report significantly increased expenses and reduced sales.

"Farmers and ranchers have been under intense stress and market uncertainty for months during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and Representative Adams recognizes that Congress must step up to help," said Eric Deeble, Policy Director. "This bill offers the need for more effective, targeted aid that meets the real needs of the producers and local food businesses working hard to feed their communities right now."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has distributed billions in aid, but the program has left out thousands of producers, including farmers and ranchers who market locally, regionally or direct to consumers and especially Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) producers. CFAP payments are based on national, wholesale prices that do not always reflect the real value of crops sold by farmers directly to the customers.

The Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (Local Farmer Act) would address this concern by providing direct payments to local and regional food producers based on their historic revenue, and help their local markets as they both cope with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Local Farmer Act would:

Create an alternative coronavirus relief payment program for farmers that sell in local and regional markets based on their historic revenue, rather than price loss

Provide emergency response grants for farmers markets and local food enterprises to implement public health protections and coronavirus-smart marketing practices. Farmers markets have struggled with increased cost and decreased revenue, and enterprises like food hubs have contented with major market losses as school and institutional food services have halted. The Local Farmer Act includes $25 million for emergency grants through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program for farmers market operators and local food enterprises.

Provide emergency response grants to direct marketing farmers to help them respond to shifting markets and adopt new socially-distant practices and sales models. In the wake of the pandemic, many producers need help to maintain or rebuild markets that have been severely impacted by the pandemic. The Local Farmer Act includes $25 million for emergency grants through the Value Added Producer Grant Program to assist producers' efforts to adapt to new market environments.

Advance equity by prioritizing assistance funding to BIPOC farmers and low-income communities of color through set-asidesand requiring data reporting from USDA for accountability.

Provide robust expanded outreach and technical assistance to BIPOC farmers and ranchers resources for organizations serving BIPOC farmers and ranchers. So that every historically underserved farmer can learn about, understand, and apply successfully for COVID-19 relief payments and emergency grants, the Local Farmer Act includes $50 million to support outreach and technical assistance through the Sec. 2501 program.

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