It’s not only holiday season for Farm Aid staff, it’s grant season too. We’ve been hard at work reviewing and assessing the many inspiring grant proposals that have come our way as part of our annual competitive grant program. We almost have things wrapped up and hope to make those announcements in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we wanted to share a bit about our Farmer Leadership Fund program in its second year of operation.
The mission of Farm Aid’s Farmer Leadership Fund, launched in 2013, is to support family farmers in developing leadership skills and to elevate farmer voices in a variety of circles in which their expertise, experience and best interests are essential to the conversation. This year the Fund supported 12 farmers, totaling $6,200.
This included defraying costs for five farmers and ranchers to participate in the Reject and Protect rally in Washington, D.C. in April as part of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance series of events in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Policymakers and communities around the country have mostly heard from environmental groups and industry, however it’s the farmers, ranchers and tribal communities that would face the most direct risks of a tar sands pipeline. The event in DC ensured that farmers and ranchers had an opportunity to tell their story, in their words, to national press and peers. This experience gave farmers and ranchers a platform to shine and to witness the power of their voice and in standing together.
Costs were also covered for five farmers to attend NC Choices‘ 2nd Annual Women Working in the Meat Business Conference in North Carolina, host state of Farm Aid 2014. This conference developed out of a need to strengthen the infrastructure for women entrepreneurs playing critical roles in advancing local pastured meats. Support from Farm Aid was instrumental in bringing female farmers to the table with processors, butchers, and niche meat business owners to find innovative solutions to build healthy, profitable local meat supply chains.
Farmer Leadership funds were also used to support farmer attendance at this year’s Georgia Organics’ Annual Conference as well as an activist gathering prior to the Farm Aid concert in Raleigh, North Carolina.
We know it costs money and time for farmers to leave their farms and businesses to attend these important events. We also know we can’t make progress as a nation without them at the table. If you’d like to support this important program, contact Hilde at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or visit farmaid.org/donate to make a donation.