Our 2019 audited financials, IRS 990, and Annual Report are now available on our website.
Here’s the introductory letter from Executive Director Edna Rodriguez, and Board President, Jerry DeWitt:
The Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA (RAFI-USA) has stood with and fought for farm families, their communities, and the environment for nearly 30 years. The ongoing farm financial crisis in the U.S. continues to threaten the security of thousands of our farmer neighbors, even as we see new communities engaging in farming and committing to keeping each other fed. As an organization, we continue to evolve to support farmers and rural communities in innovative ways with a variety of programs designed to meet the needs of farmers in an ever-changing environment.
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2019
• After several years of start-up and fundraising activities for the Farmers of Color Network, RAFI-USA secured three years of funding to formally launch the Network, beginning in 2020.
• We worked with 140 farmers to help them preserve their farms and homes through our Farm Advocacy program. Our Lead Farmer Advocate Benny Bunting — known as a pioneer in the farm advocacy field since the 1980s farm crisis — was recognized for his work and received the 2019 Spirit of Farm Aid Farmer Activist Award at the annual Farm Aid festival in September.
• Our biennial Come to the Table Conference, held in Charlotte, convened an engaged and passionate group of faith leaders, farmers, and others to share experiences and knowledge and commit to action to increase food access for all in our state.
• We restarted and expanded our Fresh Bucks nutrition incentive program, which doubles the produce buying power for SNAP recipients at area farmers markets. We also began a similar program with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and piloted a nutrition incentive program with a Durham cooperative grocery store. We partnered with 20 farmers markets in 2019, helping more than 2,500 families access affordable, healthy food.
• In March, we announced the grantees for what was to be the final of 22 years of providing grants to North Carolina farmers through the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund (ARF). Farmers who were awarded these grants over the years developed innovative approaches and creative solutions to the many challenges of farming. Sadly, the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission did not continue its funding of ARF. However, RAFI-USA continues to offer farmer grants through its Farmers of Color Network and is actively seeking additional funding to re-grant to farmers.
• The #StandWithFarmFamilies project — a campaign in favor of a new rule on livestock production with strong farmer protections — brought 10 contract poultry growers and their families to Washington, DC, to speak about the abuse they have experienced at the hands of large-scale meatpackers. The trip included a press conference at the National Press Club, a Congressional briefing, meetings with members of Congress, and delivery of petitions with 86,000 signatures.
We could not do this work without the collaboration and contributions of our many partners, ncluding the organizations, academic institutions, businesses, and community members who have supported our work in many different ways over the years. More than any other source of funding, gifts from our donors allow us to be smart and nimble in our programming. We are so grateful to work in partnership with you.