Farmers markets fought to stay open during the pandemic. Now many can’t make ends meet.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers market advocates successfully argued for markets across the country to continue operating as essential businesses. Yet as the pandemic stretches into its third month, many markets face existential budget shortfalls as the public health emergency keeps shoppers home and raises their operating costs.(No paywall)
Even as food sellers comply with stricter health rules, workers push for more protections
Cities and states across the country are pushing farmers' markets and grocery stores to enhance their public health measures after officials found some initial attempts at social distancing policies lacking. Yet grocery workers say that in order to effectively prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep themselves healthy, they need more protections and benefits. (No paywall)
Farmers and food groups innovate to keep operations viable as the coronavirus spreads
As the spread of the coronavirus causes many cities to curtail public gatherings, farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers' markets and through CSAs are coming up with novel solutions at breakneck speed to keep their customers fed and their operations viable. For one farmer, a pool noodle is an essential part of the plan.(No paywall)
In North Carolina, pandemic prompts farmer cooperation
Even before he knew that city officials in Durham, North Carolina, would be suspending the local farmers’ market, George O’Neal was preparing for disruption. Last Saturday, he stood behind a table piled high with mustard greens and kale, holding a clipboard and taking names for what he hopes will become a model of coronavirus-era collaboration.(No paywall)
As coronavirus spreads, farmers fear market closures and lost income
Communities across the country are attempting to delay the spread of the novel coronavirus by canceling large events, closing schools, and banning large gatherings. But farmers who sell directly to consumers, through farmers' markets or other channels, are concerned about how their farms will survive if those outlets temporarily shutter.(No paywall)
A capital infusion for SNAP payments at farmers’ markets
An Austin-based payments company whose pending shutdown last summer threatened the ability of thousands of farmers’ markets to accept food stamps has received a $2-million lifeline from Square, the financial technology company, reports Jane Black in FERN’s latest story, published in collaboration with The Washington Post. (No paywall)
Permanent fix needed for SNAP purchases at farmers markets
Far more than farmer revenue is at stake in the threatened loss of SNAP sales at 40 percent of U.S. farmers markets, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition on Monday. "We believe that farmers’ ability to serve low-income families is not just important for their bottom line but also critical to genuinely healthy food systems," said the grassroots alliance in calling for a long-term solution that assures food stamp recipients can use their EBT cards to buy fresh foods at farmers markets.
California avoids the SNAP snafu engulfing farmers markets
California offers an example of how to avoid the electronic equipment snarl that threatens SNAP sales at 40 percent of farmers markets across the nation, says The New Food Economy. "Their method? Creating a system partially, if not fully independent of the federal system."
New York taps controversial bonus program to preserve SNAP at farmers markets
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to ensure farmers markets can continue accepting SNAP benefits through the end of the market season relies on funding from a controversial federal program that rewards states for implementing SNAP with low error rates—and that lawmakers may eliminate in the next farm bill. (No paywall)
New York State deal keeps SNAP working at farmers markets
Food stamp recipients in New York State will be able to use EBT cards, without interruption, at farmers markets throughout New York for the rest of the market season, announced Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
As processor shutdown looms, nonprofit funds another month of SNAP at farmers markets
One week after FERN and the Washington Post reported on the imminent shutdown of an EBT payment processor responsible for 40 percent of all SNAP transactions at farmers markets, a national farmers market advocacy group has stepped in to fund the processor’s operations for another month. (No paywall)
A contract is rebid, and 40 percent of SNAP sales at farmers markets are up in the air
Earlier this year, when the USDA changed the vendor that runs its program that allows farmers markets to take SNAP benefits, it set off a chain reaction that could soon prevent thousands of poor people from using those benefits at the markets, reports FERN’s latest piece, published with The Washington Post. No paywall
At cross purposes: Urban agriculture and an ‘agrihood’ in Detroit
The Oakland Avenue Farmers’ Market in Detroit sells fresh-grown food every Saturday “in a historically low-income and black neighborhood where such options aren’t readily available,” says the Detroit Metro Times. Now it's facing competition from the Michigan Urban Farm Initiative, which gives away produce each Saturday.
Pingree mulls run for governor of Maine
Fifth-term Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, a leading advocate in the House for small farmers and farmers’ markets, is considering a run for governor of Maine in 2018, says the Portland Press Herald.
Food activist Gus Schumacher dies; former state, USDA official
A food activist with roots on a Massachusetts farm, Gus Schumacher had a hand in the creation of an antihunger movement that helps poor people buy more fruits and vegetables while boosting the income of local farmers. The executive vice president of nonprofit Wholesome Wave, Schumacher died Monday; he was in his late 70s.
Farms tally $8.7 billion in local sales of food
Growers in California reaped one-third of the $8.7 billion in direct marketing of food nationwide, said USDA in its first-ever Local Foods report, based on 2015 sales of fresh and value-added products. Farms who sold directly to institutions or intermediaries, such as wholesalers or food hubs, took the largest share, $3.4 billion, of the U.S. total.
Many farmers’ market visitors are there just to socialize
Some farmers are seeing a drop in farmers' market sales, as customers steer toward prepared foods and away from fresh vegetables and fruit, says The Washington Post. Many customers coming to markets today are younger and don’t cook much. They consider the market more of an event than a source for the week’s groceries.
New York City Council hatches plan to protect Hudson Valley farmland
Some members of New York City Council want to allocate $50 million from the city budget pay farmers to keep farming in Hudson Valley, reports The New York Times.
Farm Bureau launches survey of USDA programs
The largest U.S. farm organization announced an online survey open to all farmers and ranchers to rate their experiences with 10 USDA programs on soil and water conservation, rural energy, farmers markets, and farm operating and land ownership loans.