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Commentary: Agricultural advocacy gains additional importance

Issue Date: May 20, 2020
By Sara Neagu-Reed
Sara Neagu-Read
Farm Bureau advocacy before Congress continues during the pandemic, including specific recommendations for a second Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Photo/Dave Kranz

The world may be going through a pandemic, but agriculture doesn't stop. Producing food for our state, nation and world continues.

The social media hashtag #stillfarming has reached 50 million impressions and climbing during the pandemic, as farmers, ranchers and others involved in agriculture describe their work to keep essential food and farm products moving to market.

Similarly, advocacy doesn't stop during these unprecedented times. At Farm Bureau, we're #stilladvocating at the federal, state and local levels.

Some people have asked me how farming and advocating is different during COVID-19—and my response is there is no difference. Sure, we work remotely and Zoom meetings are the new norm, but advocacy, just like farming, does not stop.

In a typical year, many of us would be packing our bags right about now to head to Washington, D.C., for an annual advocacy trip including county Farm Bureau leaders and the Leadership Farm Bureau class. I know how excited the participants were for this trip. But we can't let that excitement fade: There is much advocacy to do from California! In fact, ever since the pandemic and related stay-at-home orders began, more than two months ago, we have been busier than ever before.

There is a saying within the Farm Bureau family: "Farm Bureau, working for you." Now more than ever, Farm Bureau has the responsibility to play a role, and advocacy is one way we have and will continue to do that.

We fight to keep farmers, ranchers, agricultural businesses and rural areas afloat; find solutions that will provide immediate forms of relief to all producers; discuss the need for equal treatment among commodities, horticulture to hogs; protect our workforce; and ensure our excess commodities are being sent as efficiently as possible to those who need them most.

Our job has only just begun.

The federal response to COVID-19 requires ongoing action to address the needs of millions of Americans in crisis, including farmers and ranchers. Right now, Congress is working on the second Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES-2 Act. This emergency legislation would include needed assistance for America's farmers and ranchers.

Farm Bureau is committed to doing all we can to preserve the economic health of the agricultural sector as the nation fights this pandemic. The California Farm Bureau Federation has requested several specific provisions in the CARES-2 Act for the benefit of farmers, ranchers and rural communities:

  • Replenishment of Commodity Credit Corporation funding to $68 billion. The CCC plays a significant role in providing support to U.S. agriculture, particularly in times of distress and uncertainty.
  • Additional resources for the U.S. secretary of agriculture to aid in COVID-19 response.
  • Support for producers of all sizes and crops who have been affected by the pandemic and the ensuing impact to markets. Congress needs to ensure adequate funding is available to provide relief for farmers and ranchers who have already encountered losses due to COVID-19, as well as those who are planting now and will be harvesting in a few months.

It's impossible to predict the severity at which each agricultural sector will be impacted, which is why we are asking Congress to support these and other provisions needed to underpin the agricultural economy.

Times like these remind everyone of the critical need to ensure our nation's food security, and it's important for individual farmers and ranchers to make that point to members of Congress as they discuss this legislation.

To help, CFBF has provided a template of a letter or email that you can transmit to your representatives. We encourage you to visit the FARM TEAM page on the CFBF website at www.cfbf.com/farm-team/, where you'll find the sample letter.

Let's remind our members of Congress—rural and urban alike—that we are #stillfarming and #stilladvocating.

(Sara Neagu-Reed is associate director of federal policy for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be reached at sneagureed@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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