Pandemic Cuts Critical Off-Farm Income for Farm Families
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Farm Bureau has been sharing updates of how agriculture is being affected throughout the state. We have a few more of those updates to share with you here today.
Farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for a federal aid program, beginning next week. The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Tuesday signups will start May 26 for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The American Farm Bureau says many farmers have faced "unprecedented losses" from a breakdown in distribution channels during the pandemic.
Along with roiling markets for farm products, the pandemic has cut off-farm income for many farm families. Most farmers or ranchers supplement agricultural income with off-farm jobs, but nearly half of those who responded to a California Farm Bureau survey said they had lost off-farm income due to the pandemic. An agricultural economist calls off-farm income "critical" for small farms, and said many larger farms count on it, too.
People who grow and sell fresh produce say they expect markets to stay unusually volatile for months, though they indicate they've seen some stabilization. The head of a produce-marketing cooperative says sales volumes have risen to more than half of average--after plummeting due to restrictions on restaurants and other food-service buyers. Vegetable farmers will likely adjust planting plans to try to bring supplies back in line with demand.
(Source: California Farm Bureau)