Press Releases | December 18, 2014

Farm Aid Announces Grants to Empower Family Farmers Leading Change in Our Food and Farm System

December 18, 2014

Brittany Vanderpool

Farm Aid Announces Grants to Empower Family Farmers Leading Change in Our Food and Farm System

Cambridge, Mass. — Farm Aid today announced that it distributed more than half a million dollars in grant program funding this year, investing in organizations working to strengthen family farm agriculture. $585,700 was granted to 83 family farm, rural service and urban agriculture organizations in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

“Thanks to the generosity of supporters from across the country, today Farm Aid sends money to hardworking advocates and organizers who share Farm Aid’s mission to strengthen family farmers,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Farm Aid grants support their work and invest in projects that build a thriving future for family farm agriculture and good food for all in both rural and urban communities.”

Farm Aid funds were invested in programs that:

  • Help farm families stay on the land with legal support, business planning and financial assistance;
  • Build new market opportunities for farmers and increase consumer access to good food;
  • Confront corporate concentration in agriculture and ensure competitive markets;
  • Advocate for fair farm policies on behalf of all family farmers;
  • Inform and organize farmers and eaters around issues such as factory farms, genetically engineered (GE) food, food safety, climate change and fracking;
  • Recruit and train beginning farmers and increase their access to farmland;
  • Support farmer-to-farmer programs for more sustainable agricultural practices;
  • Enhance access to good food in low-income communities; and
  • Empower and support immigrant, refugee, and socially disadvantaged farmers and farmworkers.

“Farm Aid grantees are doing the fundamental work to grow the best possible farm and food system from the ground up,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “We are honored to call them our partners.”

In North Carolina, where Farm Aid held its annual benefit concert in September of this year, Farm Aid invested $78,500 in nine programs that support family farm agriculture, social justice and the Good Food Movement. Awardees include:

  • Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh, North Carolina, for a farmer-to-farmer training program that supports the professional development of beginning farmers;
  • Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) in Asheville, North Carolina, to support the Appalachian Grown™ certification project;
  • Land Loss Prevention Project in Durham, North Carolina, to provide legal services and technical support to financially distressed and limited resource farmers in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast;
  • Operation Spring Plant in Oxford, North Carolina, to help African-American and limited resource farmers transition to sustainable farming practices and to involve youth in agriculture;
  • Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI) of Pittsboro, North Carolina, for its Farm Sustainability Program, which includes financial counseling and mediation services to farmers in crisis; its work to advance public plant and animal breeding; and its work to support farmers and ranchers involved in contract agriculture to assure that the processor-producer relationship serves as a fair partnership; and
  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, in Pittsboro, North Carolina, to protect family farms from the implementation of industrial-scale food safety rules as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
  • NC Choices, a program of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, to support scholarships for five women farmers to attend the Women Working in the Meat Business Conference, which seeks to find innovative solutions to building healthy, profitable local meat supply chains.

“Farm Aid funding is critical to our ability to put a trusted advisor at the table when farm families need help,” said Scott Marlow, executive director of RAFI. “But it’s crucial that we don’t just help farmers in crisis, but that we help all farm families succeed. Farm Aid is an important partner in this work to help farmers thrive by growing good food that is healthy for the farmer, their families, their communities and the planet.”

Disaster grants between $3,000 and $10,000 were awarded to organizations that support farm families facing chronic drought, while individual emergency grants of $500 were awarded to 15 farm families facing economic crises or natural disasters. In addition, Farm Aid’s Farmer Leadership Fund awarded $6,200 in funds this year to elevate farmer voices in policy discussions and offer training opportunities.

For a complete listing of Farm Aid’s 2014 grants, visit

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, advocate for policies that serve farmers and consumers alike, and invite everyone to be part of building a thriving family farm system of agriculture.

Farm Aid’s annual concert is a major effort of the organization, featuring performances donated by top artists, HOMEGROWN Concessions® made with family farm food, and the HOMEGROWN Village of hands-on exhibits that showcase family farmers, soil, water and ways we all connect to the roots of our food.

Farm Aid welcomes donations at

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 concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $45 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. Join the Farm Aid conversation on Twitter at For more information about Farm Aid, visit


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