In Loudon, Kuster Discusses Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Small Farms
Loudon, NH - Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) visited Sanborn Mills Farm in Loudon to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on New Hampshire’s agricultural community. Kuster met with employees and underscored the importance of including family farms in COVID-19 assistance programs offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Earlier this year, Sanborn Mills received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan that allowed the farm to retain all its employees despite having to shut down their programming due to the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Kuster led 19 House colleagues in calling out USDA for not providing adequate support to small farmers, including beginning, minority, veteran, and socially-disadvantaged farmers, as the Department allocated direct payments of emergency federal funding to producers. Kuster has also introduced bipartisan legislation that would waive matching fund requirements for USDA grant programs that farmers can use during the pandemic to reorient their marketing and supply chains towards feeding local consumers. When USDA established a program earlier this year to acquire excess food from farmers to redistribute to food banks and other community organizations, she led a bipartisan letter to the Department urging them to purchase as much of this food as possible from small and mid-sized farmers.
“Small farms like Sanborn Mills are the backbone of New Hampshire’s agricultural economy, and it is imperative that Congress work to ensure they get the relief they need,” said Kuster. “While offering support programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is a step in the right direction, small farmers have largely been overlooked in COVID-19 relief efforts. This is completely unacceptable, and it is clear that we need to continue assistance to small farmers in the form of direct payments, programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, and loan options through the Small Business Administration and the USDA. I appreciated the opportunity to hear from Sanborn Mills leadership today, and I look forward to sharing their valuable insights with my colleagues as we continue our efforts to help farms of all sizes weather the COVID-19 crisis.”
"We at Sanborn Mills Farm appreciate Congresswoman Kuster's visit to discuss what small farmers can do during the pandemic to support their local communities,” said Colin Cabot, Founder of Sanborn Mills Farm. “This is something that is bigger than all of us, and yet we all can only act locally to make our communities strong through whatever new normal is next. How can the federal government help?"
Kuster voted in favor of the CARES Act in March, which authorized a broad range of programs, including direct federal payments to producers, to help farmers sustain their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Kuster voted in favor of the HEROES Act in May, which would secure critical resources and support for New Hampshire by providing $16.5 billion in direct assistance for agricultural producers and up to $33 billion in total agricultural relief and conservation funding mechanisms.