Press Releases | November 29, 2017

Farm Aid Invests in Family Farm Organizations Building Resilience of Agriculture Through Annual Grants

November 29, 2017

Brittany Vanderpool

Farm Aid Invests in Family Farm Organizations Building Resilience of Agriculture Through Annual Grants

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On the heels of Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to generosity and giving back, Farm Aid announced today that it distributed more than half a million dollars in grant funding this year, investing in organizations working to build resilient systems of agriculture and food. In 2017, Farm Aid has granted $732,351 to 83 family farm, rural service and urban agriculture organizations in 34 states and the District of Columbia, as well as to more than 60 farmers and youth for leadership development and advocacy. Farm Aid also made grants to 297 farm families for emergency and natural disaster relief.

“Thanks to the continued generosity of supporters from across the country, today Farm Aid sends critical funds to hardworking organizations who share Farm Aid’s mission,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Farm Aid grants strengthen the family farmers who are working to stay on their land and knit communities together by providing healthy food and an economic bedrock for rural and urban communities.”

In 2017, Farm Aid invested funds in programs that:

  • Build and strengthen infrastructure for local and regional food systems and raise awareness of their value;
  • Enhance access to good food in impoverished communities by building relationships between family farmers, youth and low-income consumers;
  • Recruit and train beginning farmers and increase their access to farmland;
  • Help farm families stay on the land with legal support, business planning, financial assistance and counseling;
  • Support farmer transition to organic, sustainable and regenerative farming techniques;
  • Build and support resilient systems of agriculture in the face of climate change and increasing patterns of extreme weather;
  • Confront corporate concentration in agriculture and ensure competitive markets by advocating for fair farm policies on behalf of all family farmers;
  • Address antitrust and contract violations;
  • Strengthen the grassroots around a unified vision for our food and farm system; and
  • Build an effective farmer voice in advancing food system reform.

“With the 2018 Farm Bill quickly approaching, it is critical that family farmers are organized and their voices are heard,” said Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “We are honored to partner with grassroots organizations that build resilient systems of agriculture to combat the impacts of natural disasters and climate change; work for fair policies that work for family farmers and eaters; fight discrimination in our farm and food system; protect our soil and water; and ensure everyone has access to fresh, healthy foods.”

In Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, where Farm Aid held its annual music and food festival at KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, this past September, Farm Aid invested $50,500 in eight programs that support family farmers to thrive, take action to change the farm and food system, and grow the Good Food Movement. Awardees include:

  • Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) in Athens, Ohio, to provide livestock and specialty crop farmers in Appalachian Ohio with resources and assistance to reach new market opportunities;
  • Fayette County Community Action Agency in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, to connect farmers and entrepreneurs and develop a productive farm and food business climate in 38 counties of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland;
  • Grow Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to support urban farmers, promote urban agriculture and remove barriers for people growing food in Pittsburgh and surrounding urban landscapes;
  • Keystone Development Center in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, to provide technical assistance and business planning to Early Bird Farmers’ Cooperative, which markets certified organic eggs from member farms;
  • Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association in Columbus, Ohio, to engage farmer leaders and advocates in the work of the 2018 Farm Bill;
  • Organic Farmers Association in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, to mobilize its farmer members to establish and advocate its policy platform, influence policy in Washington, D.C., and begin to unify the national organic farmer network through stronger relationships among organic farmer organizations;
  • Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) in Millheim, Pennsylvania, to develop and host farmer educational events, study sustainability indicators chosen by farmers, develop a Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship program and grow their Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program; and
  • West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition in Charleston, West Virginia, to develop and advocate for local, state and federal policies that reflect the voices of the food and farm community and support a resilient and equitable local food system.

Earlier this year, Farm Aid granted $18,500 to farm and ranch families in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado who lost land, livestock, fences, buildings and equipment to wildfires. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Farm Aid granted $114,500 to farm families in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who lost their crops, livestock, pasture, barns, equipment and other essentials to maintaining their livelihoods. Farm Aid continues to work with long-term partners in these regions to assess the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. In addition, Farm Aid’s Farmer Leadership Fund awarded more than $32,000 this year to elevate farmer voices in policy discussions, develop leadership skills and send youth involved in urban farming to sustainable agriculture conferences.

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; bring farmers, advocates and activists together for trainings and other opportunities; advocate for policies that serve farmers and consumers alike; and invite everyone to be part of building a thriving family farm system of agriculture.

For a complete listing of Farm Aid’s 2017 grants, visit

Farm Aid welcomes donations at

Farm Aid’s annual music and food festival is a major effort of the organization, offering the opportunity for tens of thousands of people to gather together each year to show support for family farmers. The annual festival features performances donated by top artists, HOMEGROWN Concessions® made with family farm food and the HOMEGROWN Village of hands-on activities that showcase family farmers, soil, water and ways we all connect to the roots of our food.

For updates throughout the year, follow Farm Aid on Twitter (@FarmAid), Facebook (, Instagram (@FarmAid) and visit

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 festival to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. For more than 30 years, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $50 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.

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