RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — As concerns about COVID-19 continue to grow, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is working to help farmers across the state. They've created a resource on their website to help farmers with information about the coronavirus and how it can impact them.
“Virginia Farm Bureau remains committed to providing our producer members and all Virginia farmers with timely and relevant information related to farm operations during this public health challenge,” said Pam Wiley, the organization’s communications director.
People can find the information on their website , which includes how farmers can get supplies and transport products, how foreign laborers can get visas through the federal H-2A program, and how you can contact state and federal agencies for information on agricultural support and services.
The website also has information about resources from the Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture farm services.
Wayne Pryor, a farmer in Goochland and president of the VFBF said there are new challenges they'll need to adapt to because of the coronavirus
"Farm Bureau was created to advocate for farmers, and we are collaborating with state and federal agencies and agricultural and forestry organizations to identify and address producer concerns," Pryor said.
In addition to the new information on their website, farmers can also access information about how to sell products directly to consumers. Lulu's Local Food is a software platform that launched in 2008 to create online food hubs. The program can help farmers who are struggling as social distancing is limiting things like farmers markets during the coronavirus outbreak.
The program is a product of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability in partnership with the VFBF. The program connects food to people while limiting in-person interactions. Farmers can sell to multiple different places, and customers can shop from multiple different farms.
“It’s been really surreal,” Molly Harris, project manager said, noting the past few weeks have been the busiest in the program’s 12-year existence. “But it’s wonderful to hear from farmers and farmers market managers in communities who are out to help.”
Market managers can use the software to build a website that farmers can apply to join and list their products. Customers are able to shop online and buy directly from the farmers. The market manager is able to use social media to market the site and arrange distribution locations for people to pick up their orders.
VA FAIRS staff is available to assist in creating a site. Learn more at luluslocalfood.com.