Farmland Trust supports 1,000 farmers who sell direct

To offset the impact of the coronavirus on farmers who market directly to consumers, the American  Farmland Trust distributed $1 million, raised from donors, in $1,000 checks to 1,000 farmers, said AFT’s president John Piotti. During a webinar sponsored by The Chicago Farmers, Piotti said the donation drive was continuing so more growers could be helped.

If the good news was that 1,000 small to mid-size producers were helped, “the not-so-good news is we have 5,200 applications,” he said. The AFT, which advocates land stewardship and preservation of land in farming, launched the Farmer Relief Fund at the end of March and began sending checks to farmers nearly two weeks ago.

Direct-to-consumer sales were disrupted by decisions to close farmers markets or to require customers to stay six feet apart. Sales to restaurants or schools evaporated almost overnight due to stay-at-home orders. Piotti said the AFT grants would help farmers find new marketing methods, such as online sales or deliveries to homes.

Community supported agriculture, in which consumers buy a share of a farm’s production in advance, is rising, said NPR. “CSA programs almost everywhere report a surge in memberships and growing waiting lists…the coronavirus just might prove to be sparking community supported agriculture’s breakout moment,” the report said.