Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers face various issues to continue feeding people but also to find alternative distribution channels for their products. With the closure of markets in many countries and the shift of consumer demand to certain types of products, such as flour and eggs, different initiatives have flourished to support local and small-scale producers.
This item of news aims at sharing experiences and inspiring other mountain actors to help them overcome the current challenges.
How to connect producers and consumers?
Südtirol liefert South Tyrol – Italy
The autonomous Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol developed the Südtirol liefert platform to showcase all initiatives connected with agriculture and food products in the region. It enables consumers to keep buying quality food products from local producers and supports farmers by maintaining their products on the market. The map features all farms and restaurants proposing deliveries or takeaways. Available in Italian and German.
Producteurs Savoir Mont Blanc – France
The Chamber of Agriculture of Savoie Mont Blanc launched its platform Producteurs Savoie Mont Blanc. Under the slogan “eating local has never been easier”, it maps all producers of the County and reports where to find their products: directly on the farm, in cooperative shops, open air markets or by delivery. Available in French.
Urduñako Zaporeak – Spain
The Orduña market, in the Basque Country, is among those markets affected by the measures of restriction and was closed. To support both producers and consumers, the cooperative Urduñako Zaporeak (Flavors of Orduña) proposes home deliveries for free: consumers can ask by phone for the list of available products, make their order and are delivered at home a couple of days later. Producers publish each week on their Facebook page new information about deliveries (days, contact person etc.) and carry out the delivery on a weekly basis. Available in Basque and Spanish.
Similar initiatives have been flourishing in several EU regions:
- Connecting volunteers and more vulnerable persons to help them for shopping with services to citizens in Bergamo, Italy
- Home deliveries of organic local productions in Turin by ZAC! Zone Attive di Cittadinanza, Italy
How to mitigate the economic losses of agri-food producers?
State intervention to absorb milk and food surplus, Italy
To support dairy farmers, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry plans to allocate €6 million to purchase milk. The intention is to absorb the surplus and distribute UHT milk to the most vulnerable families. A similar proposal has been presented for the allocation of €50 million to purchase the surplus of other food products and distribute them in the most vulnerable areas.
Connecting farmers with supermarkets to cope with the closure of local markets, France
With the closure of markets in most villages, many farmers lost their main sales channel. To support them in finding new way to commercialise their products, the Chamber of Agriculture of the County of Drôme, France, created a census file to provide farmers with the contact details of supermarkets in the County willing to expand their range of products by selling local productions.
EU measures to support producers
The European Commission announced a set of measures to support farmers. It includes the extension of the deadline for CAP payment applications (extended by a month, from 15 May to 15 June 2020), offering more time to farmers to fill in their application for both direct payments and rural development payments. Directly impacting farmers, the Commission also announced higher advances of payments to increase the cash flow of farmers. Advances of direct payments will be shifted from 50% to 70% and rural development payments from 75% to 85%. Farmers will start receiving these advances from mid-October.
How to keep producing agri-food products?
Des bras pour ton assiette, France
The platform Des bras pour ton assiette connects farmers in need of workforce and short-time workers and other people willing to find a new source of income. France estimates at 150.000 the number of needed seasonal workers to compensate the lack of foreign workforce due to the crisis. Available in French.
A crisis line to provide farmers with quick answers
The Chamber of Agriculture of the County of Drôme, France, also created a crisis phone line to be able to answer farmers’ questions. The Chamber of Agriculture also connects seasonal workers with farmers in need of workforce for the months to come.
Solidarity between sectors with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Savoie
The CCI Savoie created an online platform for producers of all economic sector to post their urgent needs or propose products, services, workforce. The initiative aims at promoting solidarity between economic sectors, including between those for which the activity is slow or stopped and conversely those facing lack of resources or workforce.16 April 2020