American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fund received a much-needed infusion of cash over the last couple weeks, with corporations that rely on farmers making commitments to serve the growing number of applications. Anuvia Plant Nutrients, Cargill, Farmland, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Valent donations brought the total in the fund to $750,000.
The trust’s initial fundraising goal for the first round of grants was $1 million, but given the number of farmer applications, it is now evident that more will be needed. The deadline for applications is Thursday, April 23, with grants promised to go out the first week of May. Once first-round grants are awarded, AFT hopes to raise additional funds for a second round.
The Farmer Relief Fund was set up to help farmers who have faced market disruptions due to the COVID-19 crisis weather the storm. The initial focus will be on farms that sell at farmers markets or to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products. Some 85 percent of these producers are classified as small farms, and most are not covered by traditional farm safety nets, nor have they benefited from the recent market facilitation payments. The fund’s focus could broaden over time as the negative impacts of the crisis become more widespread within U.S. agriculture.
All monies raised will go directly to farmers. Eligible farmers will receive cash grants of up to $1,000 each.
Initially, eligible applicants include small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales.
The trust has focused on the small to mid-size producers that sell direct to consumers, food services businesses, or institutions, believing them to be the most immediately impacted, as social distancing policies and closures keep them from selling to their usual customers.
“Corporations are filling the need to support these small farmers across the country. I’m honored that Anuvia Plant Nutrients, Cargill, Farmland, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Valent have made significant commitments to the Farmer Relief Fund,” said Ryan Lauer, AFT director of corporate partnerships. “Their generosity will provide much-needed cash grants to hundreds of producers. I hope many more corporations will consider investing in the Famer Relief Fund. The need is immense, and the creativity and resilience of farmers continues to inspire me.”
For more information and applications, go to www.farmland.org/relief.