AFR/OFU has been recognized as a partner in Farm Aid’s COVID-19 Farmer Resilience Initiative. AFR/OFU is one of approximately 120 local, state and regional organizations across the United States working to pair immediate relief efforts for farmers with longer-term resilience strategies. Only one other state organization—Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Inc.—is a partner in the grant project.

Already facing years of low prices, trade disruptions, frequent natural disasters and climate change, farmers are also now facing a myriad of issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues include loss of direct markets due to the closure of restaurants, schools and other institutions, increased infrastructure and labor costs to facilitate the creation of new markets, supply chain and labor disruptions and even greater declines in prices received for agricultural products.

“America’s farmers and ranchers already carry a great burden to produce food and fiber under increasingly stressful conditions,” said AFR/OFU President Scott Blubaugh. “Following years of low and volatile markets from continued trade issues and other disruptions, they did not need another catastrophic event like the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope grant efforts such as Farm Aid’s Farmer Resilience Initiative will be a bright spot of relief for our nation’s struggling agricultural producers.”

The Farm Aid Farmer Resilience Initiative provides assistance to farm families in all 50 U.S. states through funds administered by its partner organizations. The $500 spot grants help farmers meet household and other necessary expenses and are paired with materials developed by Farm Aid’s national partners (Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, Intertribal Agriculture Council and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) to help farmers and ranchers navigate their recovery.

“Farmers and ranchers face a deep and multi-faceted farm crisis. Federal responses to both the ongoing economic crisis and COVID-19 have unfortunately flowed to farms with the most resources, as well as powerful corporate interests, leaving the vast majority of farmers high and dry,” said Alicia Harvie, Farm Aid’s Advocacy & Farmer Services Director. “Without aggressive action, we will lose thousands of farms and ranches to this crisis, with ripple effects across our food system that are sure to further drain rural economies, impoverish food and farm workers, and consolidate land and markets into even fewer hands.”

To help farm families recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the Farmer Resilience Initiative is:

  • Investing in farmer-led solutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Deploying emergency grants to family farmers and ranchers in need, particularly those producers that are less likely to receive federal and state disaster aid;
  • Coordinating a national network of experts to create comprehensive resources for farmers;
  • Offering support to farmers under stress through the 1-800-FARM-AID hotline and connecting farmers to the legal, financial and mental health support resources they need to recover;
  • Supporting local, state and national farm organizations working on-the-ground to help farmers navigate this crisis; and
  • Advocating for needed COVID-19 recovery funds and resources from the federal government for short-term relief and long-term resilience.

Farm Aid’s collaborative approach to the Farmer Resilience Initiative is informed by more than 30 years of experience in disaster response, which relies on the participation and strength of grassroots organizations on the ground in affected communities.

By handing major decision-making authority over to local and regional organizations that work most directly with farmers, Farm Aid shares power with its grantees and supports local leadership to best address the needs of America’s diverse farm communities.

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 eaters alike; and invite everyone to be part of building a thriving family farm system of agriculture.

For more information about the Farmer Resilience Initiative, visit www.farmaid.org/farmer-resilience-initiative/. Farm Aid welcomes donations at www.farmaid.org/donate.