The past few months have been a challenge for Virginia’s farmers, the agriculture industry, and our society as a whole. We have been asked to self-isolate, to make sacrifices for the greater good, and above all else, continue farming and providing the food, fiber, and resources our country relies on. Farmers are known for their self-reliance, but this pandemic has stressed even the most resilient facets of our industry, and we have looked to the government for their assistance in the form of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
Farm Bureau worked hard with the Administration and Members of Congress to develop these programs and ensure their benefit would be felt across all regions of the country, the commonwealth, and commodities.
The Administration is particularly proud of these new programs, and the aid they will bring to the farm economy and all those who rely on it. This week, I had the pleasure of accompanying Virginia Farm Bureau Vice President Scott Sink and District Board Members David Hickman and Robert Mills to the White House to represent our industry at a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) announcement to share personal stories of how Virginia farms will benefit and to give the nation a first-hand account of the challenges our industry is facing.
The Virginia Farm Bureau Board members joined American Farm Bureau President, Zippy Duvall, in delivering remarks on the importance of the aid programs and talked to the personal impact they have felt from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were able to benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program, and now this bridge [CFAP] will also help us get into the new growing season,” said Virginia Farm Bureau Vice President Scott Sink, “In talking to farmers across the county – farming is something that always is unexpected – we deal with that, and we have to pivot at any time. But with something like this that has impacted the supply chain for producers as well as consumers, having a program like [CFAP] is very beneficial to all of us.
We are fortunate to have such dedicated and knowledgeable leaders who are willing to go to bat for Virginia’s farmers. We are grateful to the Administration and to Congress for sending aid to America’s farmers. The aid provided through CFAP can’t arrive soon enough as the effects of this pandemic continue to compound and ripple through the farm economy.”
“We are a pretty diverse operation, and we are diverse because we always expect the unexpected, and we want to stay in business. And we didn’t expect this. But I will tell the American people that your farmers and ranchers are out here working each and every day to ensure those grocery store shelves stay full. …The program that we are talking about today is not a rescue program. It’s going to help these farm families make good, wise, financial decisions, in the weeks, months, and years ahead, and it is also there to let them know that this country is here supporting them because this country relies on what these farmers and ranchers do every day,” said Virginia Farm Bureau District Board Member, Robert Mills, “I want to personally thank President Trump, the Administration, and all those who worked hard to make sure these farm families stay there, stay whole, and that the American people will never have to worry about running out of food.”
CFAP will not only give up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the pandemic but will allow USDA, through the Farmers to Families Food Box program to partner with distributors affected by the closing of restaurants and other food service businesses. The program will fund the purchase of $3 billion in produce, dairy, and meat and distribute the food to needy Americans.
District Director David Hickman’s Dublin Farm potatoes will be among the produce distributed to food banks under the federal program. “This program is going to help tremendously with the movement of potatoes this summer,” Hickman said, noting the farm has six distributors who are participating in the food box program. “So, our potatoes will be in some of these food boxes,” he said, noting the farm has submitted bids for five-pound bags of yellow and white potatoes to go directly to food banks in the region.
Virginia Farm Bureau is fortunate to have such dedicated and knowledgeable leaders who are willing to go to bat for Virginia’s farmers. Our industry and nation are going through a difficult time, but it is important that we stop and express our gratitude to the Administration and Congress for sending aid to America’s farmers. The aid provided through CFAP can’t arrive soon enough as the effects of this pandemic continue to compound and ripple through the farm economy.
Click here to watch the press conference.