Press Releases | December 7, 2016

Farm Aid Invests in Family Farm Organizations Building a Stronger Food and Farm System Through Annual Grants

December 7, 2016

Brittany Vanderpool

Farm Aid Invests in Family Farm Organizations Building a Stronger Food and Farm System Through Annual Grants

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Farm Aid today announced that it distributed more than half a million dollars in grant funding this year, investing in organizations working to strengthen family farm agriculture. $556,315 was granted to 82 family farm, rural service and urban agriculture organizations in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Grants ranged from $5,000 to $20,000.

“Farm Aid is proud to make grants to support so many good people engaged in the work of changing our food system,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “The real power of Farm Aid’s grants is in the network of changemakers they knit together, in cities and rural areas across this country.”

In 2016, Farm Aid invested funds in programs that:

  • Build and strengthen infrastructure for local and regional food systems and raise awareness of their value;
  • 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 and sustainable farming methods;
  • Confront corporate concentration in agriculture and ensure competitive markets by advocating for fair farm policies on behalf of all family farmers;
  • Inform and organize farmers and eaters around issues such as animal agriculture reform, genetically engineered (GE) food, food safety, climate change and energy issues; and
  • Enhance access to family farm food in low-income communities.

“When Farm Aid started, our goal was to immediately get money into the countryside, where rural residents were organizing to stand up for family farm agriculture,” said executive director Carolyn Mugar. “Farm Aid stands with our rural partners who are working to strengthen family farmers, protect our soil and water, and grow strong local food economies. We are also proud to support urban agriculture and innovative projects that connect urban and rural communities.”

In the DMV (the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia), where Farm Aid held its annual benefit concert at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia, in September of this year, Farm Aid invested $77,500 in eight programs that support family farm agriculture, social justice and the Good Food Movement. Awardees include:

  • Dreaming Out Loud in Washington, DC, to support the development of a two acre urban farm that will create new opportunities to hire and train local residents interested in agriculture, and provide better food in an underserved area;
  • Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, Virginia, to connect small family farms with institutional markets, provide services to farmers, and make local food more available to low-income communities;
  • Appalachian Sustainable Development in Abingdon, Virginia, to prepare beginning and transitioning farmers in Central Appalachia for obtaining Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification by providing training and one-on-one technical assistance;
  • Farm Alliance of Baltimore in Maryland, to train socially disadvantaged farmers to start independent urban farm enterprises, pursue GAP certification, increase partnerships with suburban and rural farms, and serve as a food hub for the Baltimore area; and
  • Fair Farms in Takoma Park, Maryland, to educate and engage consumers, identify and partner with farmers and businesses, and build grassroots power on the Eastern Shore in support of better agricultural system for farmers, public health, and the economic future of the region.

Farm Aid also provided funding to three organizations in the District of Columbia that are working on policy changes for family farmers across the nation: National Farmers Union Foundation, National Family Farm Coalition, and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. The policy issues they work to address include credit and land access; funding to support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers; food safety; risk management; corporate concentration; and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule and broader anti-trust issues.

Farm Aid granted an additional $21,000 to four organizations outside of the region who are working on projects affecting the DMV area including:

  • Curbing industrial poultry production in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and raising awareness of the injustices of contract poultry production;
  • Supporting farmer and farm organization leaders in their efforts to strengthen national and local policies that encourage sustainable practices;
  • Organizing farmers and rural residents around their rights in relation to natural gas pipeline development; and
  • Increasing collaboration between mid-Atlantic farm and food system groups and supporting meaningful change toward a just and sustainable food system in a 12-state region (including Virginia and DC).

Farm Aid awarded individual emergency grants of $500 to 26 farm families facing economic crises or natural disasters, such as drought and flooding. In addition, Farm Aid’s Farmer Leadership Fund awarded $7,100 this year to elevate the voices of farmers and farm advocates and support leadership opportunities.

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.

For a complete listing of Farm Aid’s 2016 grants, visit

Farm Aid’s annual concert 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 Farm Aid concert 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.

Farm Aid welcomes donations at

For updates throughout the year, follow Farm Aid on Twitter (@FarmAid), Facebook (, Instagram ( 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 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 $50 million to 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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