WASHINGTON — For the first time, AFT has awarded over $1 million dollars in grants in a single year to 190 farmers across the country through the Brighter Future Fund (BFF) and the New England Farmer Microgrants Program (NEFMP). This adds to the $3.5 million awarded since 2020. Both microgrants programs seek to improve farm viability, facilitate farm transfer and succession, help farmers access farmland, and work to permanently protect farmland for future generations.
Our nation’s farmers and ranchers work hard, and face daily obstacles related to weather, changing economic forces, and the rising costs of land and inputs. AFT makes grants to farmers and ranchers to advance our mission to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices and keep farmers on the land. We take extra care to make our application processes straightforward and accessible so that our grants can have a significant impact on a farm’s business and future.
AFT’s grants help drive new solutions for resolving key challenges facing our society by increasing the resilience of farms to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening local food systems, creating greater equity in opportunities for underserved farmers, ensuring the availability of sufficient clean water and habitat for threatened wildlife, and improving farm viability and community vitality.
The Brighter Future Fund
The Brighter Future Fund was initially launched with a generous contribution from Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCAA), one of America’s favorite farmer-owned co-ops that understands the many challenges farmers face. Building upon their initial gift in 2020, TCAA made an additional two-year financial commitment to the Brighter Future Fund.
AFT’s Brighter Future Fund provides grants of up to $5,000 per project to help farmers nationwide improve farm viability, access, transfer or permanently protect farmland, or adopt regenerative agricultural practices. In 2022, the fund accepted applications from farmers who identify as BIPOC, Veterans, LGBTQIA+ and beginning farmers who had limited access to financial resources in the past. Supporters for the Fund include: Tiillamook, ButcherBox, Domino’s, Giant Foods, iHeartMedia, Tractor Supply Company, and many generous individuals around the country.
“The Brighter Future Fund helped me access my own tools and supplies, which enabled me to grow healthier crops, be more efficient in the field, and be more profitable on my land” -prior awardee in Idaho.
“We deeply appreciate our many supporters that made it possible for us to help more than 120 farmers across the country,” said Ashley Brucker, American Farmland Trust’s Agriculture Conservation Innovation Program Manager and national coordinator for the BFF. “These farmers’ stories are so compelling. Together, we are helping farmers do things like convert a school bus to a mobile farmers market, access legal support for legacy planning and purchase firefighting equipment to cope with wildfires in a drought-stricken area. These grants are going to improve the lives of farmers across America.”
“As a farmer-owned co-op and a Certified B Corporation®, TCCA is dedicated to be a force for good in the world,” said Jocelyn Bridson, Director of Environment & Community Impact at TCCA. “The core values of our Stewardship programs are focused on cows and farmers, employees and consumers, and our community and the environment. This partnership with American Farmland Trust is one example of how we can collectively make impact to support farms and farmers across the country. We are thrilled that our underwriting support has allowed AFT to expand their fundraising efforts and create even more momentum for this program. TCCA encourages and welcomes other companies and individuals that care about the future of farming to contribute to the Brighter Future Fund.”
The New England Farmer Microgrants Program
Originally founded by two long-time AFT donors, the New England Farmer Microgrants Program (NEFMP) was launched in 2020 to address some of the key barriers faced by farmers in the region: access to farmland, farm succession and transfer planning, and the adoption of regenerative farming practices. Since 2020, NEFMP has awarded $775,000 to 165 farmers in all six New England states. This year, the program made its highest award amount, giving 69 farmers over $538,000, bringing the program total to $1.3 million dollars directly into the hands of New England farmers.
“The NEFMP grant helped us bring more land into production, which allowed us to grow more food, increase sales, and improve crop quality. The NEFMP grant program is evidence that there are people beyond the immediate farming community who are using their resources to protect and improve farmland for food production, which we really appreciate.” — Prior awardee from Maine.
“The NEFMP grants directly improve farmers’ lives and livelihoods,” said Jim Habana Hafner, New England Regional Director. “Farming has never been easy, but soaring land and input costs – and climate change – make the stakes even higher. Because these grants help overcome specific obstacles, they have an outsized positive impact on helping farmers thrive across New England. With continued investments from AFT members and partners, together we are building a resilient future for farmers, communities – and future generations in New England.”
Learn more about AFTs grantmaking and ways you can support at farmland.org/grantmaking.
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.
–American Farmland Trust