Farm Credit institutions go above and beyond to support their communities in the face of COVID-19.
Farm Credit support doesn’t stop at the farmgate. As cooperatives located in the same rural towns we serve, Farm Credit institutions are always there to help the communities where our customers and employees both live and work, and this current crisis is no exception.
A few years ago, Northwest Farm Credit Services (NWFCS) had ordered 200 N95 masks in preparation for what had promised to be a bad wildfire season. Circumstances back then changed and they didn’t need them. Seeing the great demand in their community for such masks, NWFCS decided to donate those they had in stock to a nearby fire station.
Demand for supplies at food banks has also skyrocketed as unemployment continues to grow. Unable to stand idle as members of their communities struggle, many Farm Credit institutions have donated to local food banks, such as the Farm Credit associations of Arkansas. These institutions joined together to support the AR Hunger Relief Alliance, an organization that unites food access advocates to provide food resources and education to reduce hunger in Arkansas. Farm Credit Services of America responded similarly, donating $12,500 across five food banks to provide 125,000 meals to those in need. And these are just two of many examples.
Addressing food distribution challenges
Farm Credit is helping solve another issue facing communities across the country: food distribution.
Farmers coast to coast are at a loss for what to do with the excess fresh food stuck on their farms, as restaurants and schools, their usual markets, have closed. Unsure what to do, farmers are looking to food banks, who manage important food distribution channels, for help. However, making and facilitating these new connections is challenging, especially given the current circumstances.
The Farm Credit associations of California and CoBank stepped up to fund an effort led by the California Department of Agriculture to help solve this new challenge, all while ensuring that farmers are paid for their products.
School closures have also placed an enormous strain on customers’ families. In response, Heritage Land Bank developed a coloring book with farm- and livestock-related images, promising to share all the art work received with their social media followers. And Horizon Farm Credit is partnering with Local Homestead Products to host a “Farm-to-Film” series, featuring a video and accompanying worksheet about a different aspect of farm life each week. At the end of the eight-week program, students who completed each of the worksheets can redeem a special prize.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many disruptions and challenges across the agriculture industry, Farm Credit’s cooperative structure and deep dedication to serving the communities of which we are a part equip us to support our customers during even the most challenging times.
This blog marks the fourth and final post in the series, “Farm Credit COVID-19 Response.” We encourage you to read the first, second and third posts to learn more about how Farm Credit has supported our customers through the COVID-19 pandemic.