CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In the midst of the worst farm crisis since the 1980s, Farm Aid announced that it distributed more than $1 million in grant funding in 2019. Farm Aid prioritized organizations working to address challenges created by the dominant industrial agricultural system, which has pushed family farmers to the brink of extinction.
“Thanks to generous supporters from across the country, Farm Aid’s grants to grassroots farm and rural service groups will keep family farmers on the land,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Our goal is to create real change in our farm and food system, from the ground up. Farm Aid grantees strengthen family farmers, they build communities that can support each other in hard times, and they organize people to stand up and challenge corporate power in our food system. These are essential activities that benefit everyone — eaters and farmers.”
In 2019, Farm Aid distributed a total of $1,005,898, making grants to farm families and 95 family farm, rural service and urban agriculture organizations and giving scholarships to college students studying agriculture. Farm Aid grantees provide crisis support to farmers, build power in rural communities, develop resilient systems of farming, advance farmer-led solutions to climate change and fight the establishment or expansion of factory farms.
Earlier this year, Farm Aid granted $224,100 to assist farm and ranch families who suffered devastation after historic flooding in the Midwest and Texas. Farm Aid continues to work with partners in those regions to assess the long-term needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. Grants of $46,386 enabled farmers to participate in leadership trainings, policy advocacy and other gatherings where farmers’ perspectives are essential.
Emergency grants totaling $32,000 were made to farm families to cover essential household expenses. These emergency grants are recommended on a case-by-case basis by Farm Aid hotline managers who operate the 1-800-FARM-AID hotline and connect farmers with helpful services, resources and opportunities specific to their individual needs.
In 2019, Farm Aid’s granting priorities included work that is:
- Confronting the farm crisis: Programs that provide crisis support to farmers in the form of farm advocates, legal support, mental health and social services, hotlines, emergency funds and more, as well as work that builds farmer power to advance policy solutions like supply management, fair pricing, fair access to credit, and anti-trust policies that will advance long-lasting structural change.
- Leading solutions to climate change: Programs that develop resilient farming practices and advance on-farm climate mitigation and adaption practices, in addition to advancing farm-based solutions to climate change in state and federal policy.
- Building power: Programs that advance rural organizing and community-building strategies; that work to dismantle corporate control in agriculture; and that advance democratic power-building for farmers, paying careful attention to address systemic inequities, specifically for farmers of color.
- Fighting factory farms: Efforts to stop the establishment or expansion of factory farms and to advance state and federal policies that protect local communities and ecologies from the impact of factory farms.
In Wisconsin, where Farm Aid held its annual music and food festival at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy this past September, Farm Aid invested $68,500 in 10 programs that met this year’s priorities. Awardees include:
- Alice’s Garden Urban Farm in Milwaukee to support both urban and rural agriculture by training young adults from the urban context who are seeking a vocation in the farming traditions of their ancestors.
- Family Farm Defenders in Madison to advance food sovereignty through parity pricing, anti-trust action and dairy supply management, as well as promotion of agroecology for climate justice.
- Fondy Food Center in Milwaukee for the Fondy Farm Project, which supports 26 primarily refugee farmers through access to land, resources and technical support, and implements sustainable agricultural to help farmers, land and water thrive.
- Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee to support beginning farmer education and mentorship at its urban farm, growing nearly 500,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each year solely for the purpose of feeding those facing hunger in Milwaukee County.
- Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy to help farmers, especially underserved farmers, access federal and state resources available for their farms and communities.
- Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service in Spring Valley to promote organic and sustainable agriculture by providing the education, resources and expertise that farmers need to succeed.
- Oneida Nation in Oneida to support the Center for Experiential Learning in Agriculture that will train Native American farmers to succeed.
- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Bayfield to support free or reduced-cost Community Supported Agriculture shares from Mino Bimaadiziiwin, Red Cliff’s tribal farm, to increase accessibility for low-income community members.
- Wisconsin Farmers Union in Chippewa Falls to raise the voices of Wisconsin farmers to rebuild a viable economy for family farmers and rural communities, including support for their Dairy Together campaign to organize dairy farmers impacted by unfair markets.
- Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council in Gillett to support the Tribal Agriculture Apprentice Program, which educates three apprentices in farm management and indigenous agriculture stewardship methods and provides outreach and education to tribal beginning farmers.
In addition to the $68,500 in Wisconsin, Farm Aid invested $101,500 in 12 programs in four additional states in the Upper Midwest region, including Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan.
In September 2019, Quincy Media Television stations in Wisconsin (WKOW, WAOW, WXOW, WQOW and KBJR) hosted an 18-hour telethon, raising nearly $47,000 to provide support, emergency relief and other resources for family farmers in Wisconsin and across the Upper Midwest, which Farm Aid distributed in its grant program.
Farm Aid’s grant-making is one aspect of its work to keep family farmers on the land, growing good food for all. In addition, other Farm Aid programs inspire an increased demand for family farm food; bring farmers, advocates and activists together for trainings and other opportunities; advocate for policies that serve farmers and consumers alike; and invite everyone to be part of building a thriving family farm system of agriculture.
For a complete listing of Farm Aid’s 2019 grant recipients, visit www.farmaid.org/2019grants.
Farm Aid welcomes donations at www.farmaid.org/donate.
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual festival to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. For more than 30 years, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised $57 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.
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