The COVID-19 emergency is having an immediate and potentially devastating impact on local farms. In a recent survey of farmers about the effects of the COVID-19 emergency, eighty percent reported an immediate decrease in customers and sales. Two thirds reported that, if disruptions persist for several months, the long-term financial hardship would be severe enough to result in bankruptcy, business closure, and leaving the industry. We can’t afford to lose our farms.
More than a thousand farms in the Southern Appalachian region depend on local markets to sustain their livelihoods. Not only do these farms provide fresh and flavorful foods for the community, they are important economic drivers and sustainably preserve thousands of acres of scenic farmland. Our farms are innovative and resilient, but they are facing unprecedented challenges that will take a community effort to address. Without help, many will not be able to survive this crisis. Now, more than ever, we need to come together and support our farms.
Farmers in our survey and outreach have identified the following as their top needs:
- help finding and transitioning to new market outlets
- marketing support and communicating to the public how to connect with farms
- keeping farmers markets open and safe
- financial support through loans or grants
To respond to this unprecedented need, ASAP is asking for community support for the Appalachian Grown Farmer Relief Fund to strategically address emergency needs. As available, funds will be used for public health preparedness grants to farmers markets, immediate needs grants to farmers, and to purchase unsold food for donation to hunger programs.
Donate today. Show your support for our local farmers.