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AFT’s Brighter Future Fund aims to assist underserved producers

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For the second year in a row, American Farmland Trust is opening up the Brighter Future Fund to help support farmers and ranchers as the pandemic drags on. The 2021 Brighter Future Fund will grant awarded applicants $5,000 per project. The grant aims to help farmers nationwide to improve farm viability, access, transfer or to permanently protect farmland or adopt regenerative agricultural practices.

A project may involve one or more individual farmer(s) or farm families and only one grant can be awarded per farmer/farm family. In 2021, the fund will accept applications from farmers who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color women, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual who had had limited access to financial resources in the past.

“The Brighter Future Fund helps producers efficiently access funding to address some of the biggest challenges they face,” said David Haight, AFT Vice President of Programs. “This year, the program will focus exclusively on providing resources to producers who have faced systemic barriers in our agricultural system.”

The Brighter Future Fund, which began in 2020, helps farmers launch, grow, and sustain farms in the face of forces impacting the food and agricultural system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, changing markets, severe weather and climate change. Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA), one of America’s favorite farmer-owned co-ops, will make an additional two-year financial commitment to the Brighter Future Fund, building upon its initial gift in 2020.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we understand the many challenges farmers face and we’re proud to continue our partnership with American Farmland Trust to assist farmers throughout the U.S.,” said Jocelyn Bridson, TCCA’s Director of Environment & Community Impact. “We were moved by stories of how the 2020 Brighter Future Fund recipients implemented changes on their farm for better environmental or economic resilience and have committed to underwriting this program the next two years. The grants provide a small but important boost to farmers and help address inequalities by targeting funding to farmers that have been underserved in the past including BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and/or women farmers.”

Funding will be allocated to help farmers access professional services and pay for equipment or infrastructure costs. The grants make a difference for farmers to improve farm viability; access, transfer or permanently protect farmland; or adopt regenerative farming practices and increase resilience to climate change.

Since 2020, AFT has provided approximately $2.5 million in grants directly to more than 2,000 farmers across the nation for pandemic relief, increased resilience, land access, and enhanced viability.

Applications will be reviewed and awarded in the order the applications are received based on eligibility. AFT will continue to receive applications and make awards until available funds are expended. To apply, farmers should submit a completed electronic Brighter Future Fund Application to AFT.

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