As the fund application went live in English and Spanish, farmer requests for relief came in fast, most applications are from producers with revenues under $100,000 estimating on average loss of $40,000.
AFT has focused on these producers, believing them to be the most immediately impacted as “social distancing” policies and the closure of restaurants, schools, farmers markets, and other institutions keep them from selling to their usual customers. Eighty-five percent of these producers are classified as small farms and most are not covered by traditional farm safety nets, nor have they benefited from the recent market facilitation payments.
“There is help on the way. The initial response has been very strong, with our partner Farmland® leading the way with a generous donation which we hope will be an inspiration to others,” said John Piotti, AFT president and CEO. “It is clear from what we are hearing, that there is need. Applications began coming in immediately, most from small farms that typically sell at farmers markets and to restaurants.”
“Core to our mission at Farmland foods is to provide great food to our friends, families and neighbors. Now more than ever we need to support the many farmers that help bring fresh nutritious food to our tables,” said Erin Thacker, Farmland brand manager. “We did not hesitate when AFT asked for help, committing $25,000 to the Farmer Relief Fund.”
The Farmer Relief Fund program details and application can be found at www.farmland.org/relief.
Initially, eligible applicants include small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products.
AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1.
Stay tuned to AFT’s social channels for updates on the Farmer Relief Fund and farmers on the front lines of this crisis. Sign up to receive AFT email updates at farmland.org/sign-up.