Blog | May 18, 2020

Farm Aid Launches Farmer Resilience Initiative in Response to COVID-19

Farm Aid has committed $400,000 to launch a national COVID-19 Farmer Resilience Initiative, working with more than 100 local, state and regional organizations across the country to pair immediate relief efforts with longer-term resilience strategies. Farm Aid is proud to invest in our farm and food system, from farm to plate, and take care of the farmers and ranchers who are providing essential services by feeding their communities.

“The time to build a resilient family farm food system is now!” – Willie Nelson

Our Approach

Through our partners, we will distribute at least $100,000 in each of four U.S. regions, using the following multifaceted approach built upon our three decades of disaster response:

Leveraging immediate relief to build resilience.

Farmers experience significant lag time between the moment a crisis strikes and when federal and state resources actually begin to flow to community levels. Farm Aid works with local partners to quickly distribute emergency funds in the amount of $500 to farm families in order to provide immediate relief and foster resilience before larger sources of money become available.

Grassroots at its core.

We believe that who distributes relief money matters, which is why Farm Aid funds are administered by local organizations and service providers that are positioned to build relationships with them over the course of their recovery and beyond. This approach has the benefit of sharing power between the grantor (Farm Aid) and grantee, while handing major decision-making authority over to the local and regional organizations that work most directly with farmers. 

Convening leaders to build capacity, increase knowledge, and spark model-sharing.

Throughout the duration of the crisis, Farm Aid is hosting weekly calls with the partners coordinating fund distribution locally, as well as with national partners who are experts in immediate and long-term disaster recovery. The calls allow us to share status updates on the crisis, learn from each other, share response models and identify areas for further collaboration.

Connecting the dots between crisis intervention and lasting structural change.

Time and again, we find that what we learn when trying to save one farm informs the policies and interventions that help all farms. Those lessons also help build a more resilient food and agricultural system. Farm Aid coordinates farm service providers and policy advocacy networks so that on-the-ground lessons can be translated into important policies.

How Farm Aid is Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Investing in farmer-led solutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Deploying emergency grants to family farmers and ranchers in need
  • Coordinating our national network of experts to create comprehensive resources for farmers
  • Offering support to farmers under stress through the 1-800-FARM-AID hotline and connecting farmers to the legal, financial and mental health support resources they need to recover
  • Supporting local, state and national farm organizations working on-the-ground to help farmers navigate this crisis
  • Advocating for needed COVID recovery funds and resources from the federal government for short-term relief and long-term resilience

National Partners

Our national partners serve as critical links that connect national and local crisis recovery efforts. Farm Aid has funded the creation of The Farmers’ Guide to COVID-19 Relief, a comprehensive guide authored by the Farmers’ Legal Action Group in coordination Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, Intertribal Agriculture Council, and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. This guide outlines key provisions in the CARES Act and other emerging policies related to farmers, as well as recommendations on avoiding scams and mitigating discrimination in program implementation. We continue to brief farm service provider networks on this guide, stress assistance strategies, and other critical programs through webinars.

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