COVID-19 Policy Response: A Stronger, More Inclusive Economy for All Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — We as Americans have overcome individual and community adversity many times in our collective history, and we can overcome the threat the COVID-19 pandemic presents to all of our health and safety. Our strength as a nation resides in our people and by all of us pulling together and pulling for each other we will get to the other side of this threat.

The first priority should remain the health and welfare of all people and there are many public health individuals and organizations that know far better than we do about how to keep us healthy and well. We strongly encourage everyone to listen to the experts and follow their guidance.

However, many times during a crisis such as we are facing, we can take actions that will not only get us through the crisis but make us stronger as a nation and as a people. The President and the Congress have the opportunity to do just that when adopting economic stimulus packages. They can and must take this opportunity to make our economy work for us – the people – with an inclusive economy that stimulates competition, rewards innovation and ingenuity, recognizes the value of small business, independent farmers, and ranchers, provides all workers with wages acknowledging the value they bring in building America’s prosperity, and above all else is inclusive of all people.

If there is any economic takeaway from this crisis it is that the global economy has failed us and is a national security and food security risk.

Policy Recommendations

During the 2008-2009 economic crisis, the Obama administration and the Congress failed rural America and many of the average working people. As President Trump and the Congress discuss and adopt responses to our economic crisis, Family Farm Action and Family Farm Action Alliance demand their decision-making be guided by the following principles and parameters:

  1. The underlying principle of all economic stimulus packages should be to increase competition and not further concentrate the market.

    1. Corporations should be denied the opportunity to use any stimulus payments to gain a tighter stranglehold on the market. Therefore, all economic stimulus packages must ensure that corporations are restrained from using any of the stimulus dollars they receive to grant themselves a better position in the market. Instead, the payments should be restricted to ensuring workers continue to receive their salary income, maintain their healthcare and be invested in building production capacity within the United States.

    2. Investments should be made in local and regional food systems and not payments to prop up a failed global food system.

    3. Payments should be made directly to farmers and ranchers and not to the corporations which control the marketplace.

  2. New economic stimulus packages must prioritize those demographics still struggling from the 2009 recession, including rural America and communities of color.

  3. Like the shares on Wall Street, agricultural commodity prices have taken a nosedive.  Our government has acted quickly to bailout Wall Street yet little has been done for commodities. This administration has spent billions supporting the largest farms and agribusinesses like JBS through trade disputes but independent family farmers continue to struggle. A stimulus bill must focus on certainty for America’s family farmers and ranchers. We need quick implementation of price support payments to independent farmers and ranchers who have experienced losses, and not to monopoly agriculture businesses like JBS.

  4. During the Obama administration, banks too big to fail were bailed out while average Americans lost their homes and small businesses. All new stimulus packages must bypass the lender and provide homeowners, businesses, farmers, and ranchers with direct loan forgiveness or loan payments to allow them to stay in their homes, in their businesses and on their farms.

  5. While many in our communities are able to work remotely, most are not, with many facing layoffs and others being “essential” risking their and their families health to make sure the rest of us have food, shelter, public safety, public works, and healthcare.

    1. All of the essential workers are on the front line and should be considered front line emergency workers. This must include not only healthcare workers but the healthcare industry support staff; the workers who harvest, process and bring us our food ‘ the workers who keep our lights on and our drinking water flowing; and our public safety workers and their support staff. They should be protected from lost income especially from becoming ill, extended healthcare for themselves and their families, and basic family support services such as childcare as schools are being closed.

    2. Those unemployed should be extended health care for themselves and their families, unemployment compensation, and basic human services.