There’s a lot moving out in the world right now. In food and farm systems work, resources are being mobilized to support those most in need during this public health crisis — often by directly impacted communities, from the bottom up.
At the same time, conversations are underway about the deep changes needed to our food system, and how best to press for them right now when it’s so clear to all how fragile and grossly inequitable the current system is.
The long haul
Here at PAN, we’re deep in these urgent conversations, and we’re feeling encouraged and hopeful about where they might lead. We also know we’ll be in this work for the long haul.
Over the coming week we’ll be stepping back a bit to give staff time to spend with their families and communities during this time of crisis. We’ll be back in full force in early April, supporting frontline communities and working toward transformational change.
Meanwhile we’ve collected some of the most compelling food system resources we’ve come across to date, both for accessing immediate support and pushing for the longer term, systemic shifts needed.
Many of the groups who are on the frontline of harmful impacts from industrial agriculture like pesticides are also on the frontlines of coronavirus harm. Farmworkers, small farmers, food workers and Indigenous communities are all bearing the brunt of this crisis in different ways.
Below are just a few of the many resources and action alerts we’ve seen aiming to support these groups during the pandemic.
Farmworkers: Many farmworker partners are advocating for better on-farm health and safety protections and hazard pay for farmworkers as they continue working in this dangerous time. Our friend at the United Farmworkers issued this open letter to agricultural employers, and Farmworker Association of Florida highlights the vulnerability of farmworkers to the coronavirus.
Food workers: Our partners at the Food Chain Workers Alliance have organized this petition calling on state and federal policymakers to immediately support workers across the food system impacted by the virus.
Farmers: Many farmers lost their local markets when schools and some farmers markets shut down. Across the country, initiatives are moving forward to connect consumers directly with these farmers. Many regions are producing resource sites for local produce like this Rooting Resilience site for Bay Area. Local Harvest provides a website with nationwide CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) listings, and the Center for a Livable Future maps local Food Policy Councils, many of which are connecting local farmers to consumers across the country.
Indigenous communities: Indigenous Rising Media is hosting a series of webinars about the impacts of COVID-19, and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at University of Arkansas is compiling educational information and updates as well.
Moving toward transformation
How can we, together, promote the resilient, equitable food systems we know are needed? In the immediate term, how best to influence the groundwork being laid by the billions of dollars coming out of Washington DC?
These conversations are happening now, and will be ongoing.
We’ve been inspired by calls to relocalize the food system from many of our close partners, and the ongoing push from sustainable agriculture advocates to ensure allocated funds actually reach farmers that need it most.
We’re also in conversation with a cohort of rural populists which will be advocating for long term investment in rural communities and local food economies.
And we stand firmly in solidarity with those calling for an urgent shift to agricultural and economic systems that support a stable and livable climate; we know farming can and must be a core climate solution.
We look forward to deepening collaboration with all our partners and supporters in this work, as we build the just, healthy and resilient food system needed, together.