For Immediate Release: March 15, 2020
Sacramento, CA – Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), a nonprofit organization that serves small- and mid-scale farmers in California, issued the following statement from Executive Director Paul Towers in response to the Governor’s proposed actions on COVID-19:
“CAFF applauds Governor Newsom’s commitment to protecting public health, particularly the most vulnerable in our communities. Yet while food businesses and local food systems are key drivers of health and economic resilience, they are also particularly challenged with the necessary focus on social distancing. All the more reason to invest in family farmers as anchors of our communities.
“CAFF strongly supports the Governor’s efforts to ensure functioning school food programs for the neediest children, and believes investment in the right kinds of aggregation and distribution can keep family farmers viable. We need to continue to prioritize California food for California kids.
“Shuttered and struggling farmers markets, strained food distribution systems and closed restaurants that purchase from local farms all require greater attention from California officials. This crisis threatens to bankrupt family farmers.
CAFF supports the Governor’s call for restaurants to shift towards more delivery and takeout. Likewise, California’s farmers are also prepared to adapt, but many smaller operations lack the online systems and infrastructure that exist for bigger businesses. But with technical and direct financial assistance from the state, we believe that new, more efficient systems can be quickly developed to assure family farms as well as the local distributors they work with can continue to sell their goods directly and safely.
“Governor Newsom can also ensure the continued operation of the state’s 750 farmers markets, declaring them an essential public service as opposed to “special events” which currently face restrictions, while providing necessary health and safety guidance to ensure safe operation. In addition, state and local officials should support new systems to allow direct market farmers to access new distribution opportunities.
“Finally, small food hubs that provide critical aggregation and distribution services for family farmers need disaster assistance to ensure their vital capacity to simultaneously provide additional support to schools and emergency food system needs while making up for lost sales outlets for smaller farms.”
Contact: Evan Wiig, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-710-5692
Community Alliance with Family Farmers is a forty-year-old organization dedicated to creating more resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems.