Small producers are losing customers post-pandemic
Small ag producers raised their concerns on how USDA programs can adapt to better meet their needs serving local food communities during a recent House Ag Subcommittee hearing.
Tianna Kennedy grows vegetables and small grains and is the owner of The 607 CSA which is a multi-farm CSA in New York that has been growing up to 50 percent annually for several years.
Unfortunately, Kennedy says it seems consumers are going back to ‘normal’ and forgetting small producers who supported them in their time of need and scaled up to meet a market that’s diminishing.
“During emergency moments, the small-scale producers sort of take the burden of the whole food system but lack the support to pivot and to make those changes, and take all the risk,” she says.
She shared her challenges trying to access land and limitations with leasing.
“Because we only had a 10-year lease on that farm, we were unable to put in permanent fencing, and build out an adequate wash/pack/cooler station so we lose about 30 percent of our vegetables to deer annually, and can’t scale our business due to lack of cooler space and storage space,” she explains.
Kennedy outlined areas USDA should support small and beginning farmers including more technical assistance, microloans for infrastructure investments, simplified applications, better outreach, and more connections to food insecure populations.