Haaland’s Roundtable on Agriculture & Food Security Highlights Solutions for Local Farmers, Families in Need

August 12, 2020
Press Release

Albuquerque, NM – Today, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) hosted a roundtable on Agriculture and Food Security to provide an informed outlook on the local farming and ranching needs of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District and how those interact with feeding the hungry. During the roundtable, Haaland highlighted her work to support local farmers and sustainable farming practices in Congress. Local farmers, ranchers, farmers markets, and food distributors highlighted the struggles that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to providing locally grown food to families and the increased role local farmers have taken on to deliver food to families in need.

“New Mexico families are facing food insecurity and our local farmers and ranchers are the essential workers stepping up to provide healthy food to our communities in the face of a global pandemic,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland. “Today’s roundtable was important to fully understand the challenges local farmers, ranchers and food distributors are facing so that we can find solutions. It’s why I introduced legislation that invests in local and regional food systems to increase resilience in rural and urban communities.”

Each participant shared their experiences and the experiences of members within their farming communities during the pandemic and also expressed the importance of mentorship within the community to ensure local sustainable and traditional farming practices continue.

“Addressing systemic issues in our food system is paramount to addressing both hunger and agricultural production challenges in our state,” said N.M. Representative Melanie Stansbury.  “The resilience and well-being our communities is founded on the rich food and agricultural traditions of our state.  Looking forward, as we continue to navigate this pandemic and transform our food system, addressing critical infrastructure needs, supporting our farmers and ranchers at all scales, and getting healthy food to our communities is critical."

“The Downtown Growers Market (DGM) works to support and promote local agriculture, small business development and community engagement in order to better the economics, health , wellbeing and education of New Mexico residents. . Farmers markets are essential businesses that connect residents of all income levels to locally grown, healthy foods while providing a space for farmers to receive direct, full market value for their goods. The pandemic has highlighted the fragile state of our country’s agriculture and food system and the importance of local food sources,” said Danielle Schlobohm, Co-Manager of the Downtown Growers Market (DGM).

“The National Young Farmers Coalition, the Rio Grande Farmers Coalition, the Northern NM Young Farmers Alliance, and El Valle del Norte Young Farmers Coalition applaud Representative Haaland for taking the time to listen to the concerns of young farmers in New Mexico. These growers continue to struggle from the effects of Covid-19, and are waiting on Congressional action to ensure that their businesses can access the relief and recovery resources they need to continue feeding their communities through this pandemic,” said  Zoey Fink, New Mexico Organizer, National Young Farmers Coalition.

“Mile-Hi Farmers' Market provides access to fresh produce to the surrounding community. The vendors have been selling out as customers are anxious for their product,” said Darcy Bushnell, Manager, Mile-Hi Farmers' Market

“The New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association assists producers and communities across the state with programs across the food value chain that support local food access, marketing, technical assistance, and more. While the pandemic has severely disrupted business for local farmers and ranchers across the supply chain—to consumers, restaurants, institutions, grocery stores, food service, etc.— we have seen the industry respond with amazing resilience and creativity, and there have been especially strong sales among SNAP customers, CSAs, at many farmers' markets. Community-driven collaboration supported by COVID-related philanthropy has also had an important, inspiring impact on new food distribution strategies,” said Denise Miller, Executive Director, New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association.

“The Rail Yards Market in Albuquerque is as committed as ever to food security and access during this pandemic and we have adapted our market operations to serve a wide range of needs, from online shopping and curbside pick up to shopping in person on Sundays. We welcome SNAP and promote Double Up Food Bucks at our market,” said Rail Yards Market Assistant Market Manager Amy Jones.

"ACN a community driven model building New Mexico's small farming economy through sustainable and regenerative food justice," said Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network Executive Director Helga Garza

“We have non-profits, entrepreneurs, and government willing to collaborate and tackle social challenges from food security, to equity and the economy. The pandemic has made issues and needs all the more evident. The next issue of the Green Fire Times looks to spotlight heroes and leaders in our value-chain,” City of Santa Fe Economic Development & Communication Administrator Elizabeth Camacho            

Throughout the pandemic, Haaland has prioritized the needs of all New Mexicans, including the farming and agriculture communities. Haaland specifically secured funding for New Mexico’s priorities in the Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA Appropriations Act which provides $23.98 billion for rural community infrastructure, domestic and international food programs, agriculture research, oversight of the commodity futures market, and programs that serve farmers and ranchers. In addition, Haaland delivered increased funding for SNAP benefits, WIC, and child nutrition programs.

Haaland is the lead on the Farmers’ Bill of Rights which asserts the fundamental rights of farmers, ranchers, Native Nations, acequia communities and historically underrepresented farmers.

Last year, Haaland introduced the Climate Stewardship Act of 2019 which would support voluntary climate stewardship practices on over 100 million acres of farmland, reducing or offsetting agricultural emissions by one-third by 2025, through:

  • Providing tens of billions of dollars of supplemental funding for USDA working lands conservation programs, with new funding dedicated to stewardship practices such as rotational grazingimproved fertilizer efficiency, and planting tens of millions of new acres of cover crops.
  • Protecting millions of acres of environmentally sensitive farmland.
  • Doubling funding for agricultural research programs, including more funding for soil health demonstration trials.
  • Tripling USDA funding to provide farmers with expert technical assistance on climate stewardship practices.
  • Providing grant funding to tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses for renewable energy production, such as solar panels and wind turbines, and energy efficiency improvements.