RMFU, Other Ag Groups, Urge Congress And USDA To Use CARES Act Quickly And Fairly

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent by RMFU to the congressional delegations in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) has joined a number of other organizations and individuals by signing on to a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, asking him and the Department to, “work with urgency and creativity to redress harms, advance equity, and foster resilience in America’s farm and food system, starting with the funding authorized in the CARES Act.”

The letter, delivered April 9, urges Secretary Perdue and USDA to ensure the following critical outcomes in the equitable disbursement of direct aid provided to producers:

  • Aid for Local and Regional Food System (LRFS) producers should be commensurate with their expected losses of more than $1 billion. [1]
  • Application for aid should be simple, accessible, and present the lowest barrier to participation possible, including: not requiring the producer to already have an FSA farm number, being made available in appropriate languages for diverse farming communities, and being available through, and supported by, a national call center to ease the burden on local USDA offices that may have limited staff and technical capacity in the following months.
  • Aid should be prioritized toward small and midsize producers who most utilize local and regional market channels, with dedicated funds for farmers historically underserved by USDA. [5]
  • Aid should be provided directly to farmers, ranchers, and livestock growers (including swine and poultry) rather than integrators or packers and done in a manner that benefits those who bear the greatest risk in production systems and does not contribute to further consolidation and concentration within agriculture sectors.
  • Outreach to farmers must be robust with specific efforts to engage and inform farmers who may have limited engagement with USDA including but not limited to very small farmers, limited resource farmers, farmers with limited English proficiency, urban farmers, and farmers of color.
  • The USDA Office of the Inspector General should be provided with any material necessary to conduct a robust audit of the implementation of all CARES Act related agricultural provisions,

We encourage you to sign on to this letter or send your own letter to Secretary Perdue. RMFU is working diligently to keep our members updated on the latest developments around current and future relief packages to address COVID-19’s effects on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities across our three states of Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to RMFU Director of External Affairs Director Nick Levendofsky at nick.levendofsky@rmfu.org or (303) 283-3528 if you have questions regarding this letter or for more information on other work we are doing to address the COVID-19 issue for our members.

Thanks for all your office is doing to support family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities during this difficult time.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is a general farm organization whose 20,000 members make a living farming, ranching, and living in rural communities in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Learn more online @ www.rmfu.org 

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.