We knew it before, but never before has it been so clear: farmers are the backbone of our country. To keep the supply chain moving, farms are staying open, but farmers are still dealing with the same risks and frustrations that non-essential businesses are facing.
We have prepared some information farmers can use to respond to COVID-19 challenges in order to respond to current issues and prepare for continued interruptions. Colorado Farm Bureau’s COVID-19 Response Update includes the latest news that affects Colorado farmers.
If you or someone you know is overwhelmed by the current situation and is struggling, help is available. Contact Colorado Crisis Services at (844) 493-8225 or text “TALK” to 38255.
Ongoing COVID-19 Resources and Preparation Information
Apply for COVID-19 State and Federal Aid
The USDA has announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This program allows all farmers and ranchers, regardless of size or market outlet, to apply for direct support. Money is also available for marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply in 2020.
To learn more about the application process, visit farmers.gov/cfap.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture’s COVID-19 offers sections on Agriculture Business Financial Recovery:
- CDA Ag Recovery Resources
- COVID-19 Business Resources
- Colorado COVID-19 Business Resource Center
- Farmers.gov COVID-19 Resource
- Colorado Small Business Development Center Network
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- SBA – Small Business Guidance & Resources
Preparation Information for Livestock Farms
Though the climate of Colorado is more arid than Maine, the University of Maine’s Extension Publication, “How Can Livestock Farmers Prepare for the Coronavirus Outbreak,” is a relevant document that can help you prioritize aspects of animal management. The document goes into more detail regarding these proactive measures:
- Prioritizing daily activities
- Recording your Standard Operating Procedures
- Establishing “remote” means of communication
- Recruiting a back-up workforce
- Restricting visitors to your farm.
Diversify Your Revenue Streams by Exploring Direct-to-Consumer Options
If your wholesale business is down, explore selling directly to the consumer. For farms that grow ready-to-eat agricultural products, consider diversifying your revenue streams:
- Start a CSA: provide annual memberships that provide for a “share” of your farm’s production during the growing season. The Colorado Department of Agriculture maintains a directory of farms that offer CSAs.
- Join a Virtual Farmers Market: new online farmers markets have cropped up (no pun intended) in NOCO, SOCO, and Boulder County. They are all accepting new vendors. Others include Colorado Farm to Fork and Colorado Fresh Markets.
- Launch an Online Store: software for online point of sale is now available by companies like Farmigo, Food4All, and FarmersWeb.
- Pick-Your-Own: if you have fruit and family-friendly fields, consider opening part of your farm up to a pick-your-own sales model. Some farms are able to open under tight regulations such as single use buckets, hand sanitizer stations, required masking, and staggering customers.
Make Sure Your Farm is Properly Insured
Another way to prepare for uncertain times is to make sure your farm is properly covered by an insurance policy. Colorado Farm Bureau Insurance offers comprehensive coverage for your business, home, and property through our Country Squire policy. To learn more, contact your local Farm Bureau Insurance agent.