Following the return to an in-person festival this past September, today we are happy to share that Farm Aid distributed nearly $1 million in grant funding in 2021. In reviewing grant applications, we prioritized organizations working to support family farmers, advance racial equity and social justice in our food system, advance farmer-led solutions to climate change, and build capacity for systemic change in our farm and food systems.
“Thanks to generous supporters from across the country — and a triumphant return to the Farm Aid stage in Hartford, Connecticut — Farm Aid is glad to make these grants to grassroots organizations that support family farmers across the country. These folks are the lifeblood of the movement for family farmers and their work is essential for an equitable and sustainable farm and food system for us all.”
— Willie Nelson
In 2021, Farm Aid distributed a total of $972,000, of which, $817,500, was granted in December to 86 family farm, rural service and urban agriculture organizations. Earlier this year, Farm Aid granted $113,000 to assist farm and ranch families who were impacted by immediate and long-term climate disasters, including historic winter storms, record drought and wildfires. Strategic grants totaling $17,500 enabled long-term partners to address pressing needs or take advantage of unique opportunities to advance family farm agriculture.
Emergency grants totaling more than $24,000 were made to farm families to cover essential household expenses. These $500 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. Additionally, about $20,000 supported scholarships for college students pursuing degrees in agriculture.
In 2021, Farm Aid’s grants supported work to:
- Grow The Good Food Movement: Efforts that build local and regional food systems and connect family farmers directly with consumers.
- Help Farmers Thrive: Programs that provide family farmers with support and resources to start farming, transition to more sustainable farming practices, and/or continue farming in the face of financial crises and natural disasters.
- Take Action To Change The System: Work that promotes fair farm policies and organizes grassroots campaigns to defend and bolster family farm agriculture on a local, regional or national level.
These priorities guided Farm Aid’s work and grantmaking in 2021:
- Advancing Equity & Social Justice: Organizations or programs led by and/or supporting historically underserved and marginalized agricultural communities — rural and urban; work that supports Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) farmers and ranchers; and work that fosters the next generation of farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers challenging racial injustice.
- Supporting Farmer-Led Solutions to Climate Change: Development of agricultural systems and on-farm practices that nurture and safeguard natural resources, food supplies and communities; farm-based solutions to climate change in state and federal policy; and work to include farmers and communities most impacted by climate change in decision-making and leadership opportunities.
- Building Power for Systemic Change: Efforts that advance grassroots organizing and community building to dismantle corporate control and address historical inequities in agriculture; cooperative development or other economic/market solutions; and initiatives bolstering local and regional farm and food systems.
In the Northeast, where the organization reconvened its annual music and food festival in September, Farm Aid invested $125,000 in 15 programs across five states that met this year’s priorities. Awardees include The Carrot Project in Boston, MA; CitySeed in New Haven, CT; Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) in South Deerfield, MA; Connecticut Farmland Trust in Hartford, CT; Farm Fresh Rhode Island in Providence, RI; Green Village Initiative in Bridgeport, CT; Hartford Food System/Connecticut Food System Alliance in Hartford, CT; KNOX in Hartford, CT; Land For Good in Keene, NH; The Livestock Institute in Westport MA; National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) in Washington, DC and Gloucester, MA; New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in Beverly, MA; Real Food Challenge in Boston, MA; Red Tomato in Providence, RI; Rural Vermont in Montpelier, VT; and The Northeast Organic Farming Association, with chapters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Farm Aid’s grant-making is one aspect of its work to keep family farmers on the land, growing good food for all. Other work throughout the year includes efforts to increase demand for family farm food; bring farmers, advocates and activists together to build capacity for family farmers to grow change in our farm and food system; advocate for policies that serve farmers and eaters and protect our natural resources; and invite everyone to participate in a thriving family farm system of agriculture.