Green Acres Dairy 01

Ron Gibson walks through the dairy cow stalls at Green Acres Dairy farm on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in west Weber County.

OGDEN — The Utah Farm Bureau Federation hopes a new program will help sustain local farmers while feeding families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the federation launched a new initiative called “Farmers Feeding Families,” which aims to raise funds to aid farmers impacted by the pandemic, then supply their locally grown food to families and organizations that need it. Farm Bureau spokesman Matt Hargreaves said the campaign also involves Utah State University’s Hunger Solutions Institute, other hunger relief organizations and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Hargreaves said the campaign includes a crowdfunding component, through which people can donate money on the campaign’s website, farmersfeedingutah.org. Visitors to the site are prompted to make donations of $5, $25, $50 or $100, but they can also donate any amount of their choosing. Hargreaves said 100% of donations will go to purchasing, processing and distributing locally sourced food to families in need.

“This program will help us meet two important goals,” said Ron Gibson, Farm Bureau president and fifth generation Weber County dairy farmer. “The first is that it will help our farmers and ranchers stay in business at a time when many have seen markets for products either disappear or reduce dramatically. The second goal is that we will reduce disruptions in the supply chain locally and get food to families that really need it.”

Gibson said it’s a dire time for many Utah farmers and, now more than ever, it’s important to keep local food production intact. He said many important supply chain elements have closed down, leaving farmers unable to sell some products. The problem is compounded as large numbers of Utahns have been laid off, furloughed or seen their pay cut due to the impacts of the novel coronavirus.

“Once we lose a farm, it’s gone forever,” he said. “The time is now to step up and keep farmers and ranchers producing local food.”

As part of the initiative, Hargreaves said the Farm Bureau will work with Utah farmers and ranchers to determine surplus food capacity, and then with local food processors to reduce bottlenecks in production. From there, the Farm Bureau will work with its food distribution partners to identify food needs.

“With record breaking numbers of families needing help during this unprecedented time, connecting them with our state’s agriculture families and the local food they produce just makes sense,” said Logan Wilde, UDAF commissioner. “We think this is a way to keep our industry going and reduce the gaps in our food supply chain.”

Farmers and ranchers interested in taking advantage of the program should visit farmersfeedingutah.org/join-as-a-producer/. Families needing help should contact local food pantries. The Farm Bureau will partner with charitable institutions across the state to supply the food to those most in need.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!