In late December 2022, Waverley Street Foundation and the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, in collaboration with RAFI and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, awarded more than $300,000 to 13 BIPOC-led and serving organizations to enable them to increase or begin advocacy work on the 2023 Farm Bill. Awardees were located throughout the U.S. from Alaska to New York, including U.S. Caribbean territories.
Building upon this momentum, RAFI is pleased to announce that a second round of grants has been awarded, both to continue providing funding to previous grant recipients, and to support 13 new organizations. As before, the purpose of this grant is to allow organizations to engage with local communities in climate advocacy and policy work in order to develop a more inclusive Farm Bill which accurately reflects the needs of BIPOC farmers. In addition to grants for policy work, RAFI is providing opt-in opportunities for grantees to build capacity, such as trainings on the Farm Bill and federal policy process, space to convene and share experiences and peer support, and policy content for use/adaptation by grantees.
Grantee projects include outreach to farmers on the Farm Bill process and how to get involved; grassroots capacity and coalition building efforts; storytelling, community development and knowledge sharing initiatives; and funding to attract and retain staff members specifically for policy work.
For example, Black Urban Growers will use its grant funds to conduct a five-part storytelling campaign to help engage in strategic communications. Springfield Food Policy Council/40 Acres Farms will raise local and regional awareness on racial inequity in disaster relief to farmers and retain a policy intern. The West Georgia Farmers Cooperative will support policy training and workshops for farmers and their associated partners to engage in climate and equity policy work.
When asked about the impact that this grant would have on their policy and advocacy work, Jeneba Kilgore of Agroecology Commons had this to say:
“Receiving the RAFI Climate & Equity Policy Project Grant marks an exciting milestone for Agroecology Commons. This grant funding significantly bolsters our capacity to advocate for crucial agricultural policy changes centered on equity and environmental justice. With this support, we are primed to challenge existing power structures, cultivate justice, and catalyze a more resilient and equitable food system through collective knowledge and farmer empowerment.”
When asked about the potential of this grant to aid in constructing a more equitable food system, Suparna Kudesia of Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED) had this to say:
“At CoFED, we are working gently and cohesively to build a cooperative food and land system that is rooted in liberation, healing, and regeneration. We are also simultaneously building an organization worthy of our work, time, gifts, dignity, care, and service. We are doing this immense and humbling task collectively and with the understanding that we are continually dismantling systems of oppression that want to keep our communities in the same place, while also co-building our communities’ wings and prowess to build the liberated tomorrows we want to live in and leave behind. We are following the leadership of Black feminists, Indigenous leaders, and disabled organizers who continuously remind us that this liberation is rooted in the deep practice of collective care, trust, and at a pace of our humanity.”
The full list of awarded organizations and their plans can be found here.
In keeping with our commitment to a fair review process, RAFI once again convened a four-person review committee composed of BIPOC food systems advocates with decades of experience in food justice. A short bio about each person can be found here.
The committee was eager to build upon the successes and lessons learned from the first round of grants, and applied the same level of measured consideration to their individual and collective reflections on the candidacy of the applicants. Dr. Ife Kilimanjaro (Soul Fire Farm) had this to say:
“It is critical that communities on the frontlines of land, food, agriculture, climate, and environmental issues shape decisions that impact them. These resources will help folks to speak for themselves and communicate with one another about the matters most important to them.”
Mark Muller of the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation said: “This policy advocacy work that RAFI is leading is really making a difference. So many aspects of farm policy have stagnated due to the interests of long-standing constituencies. RAFI’s work to support and collaborate with frontline organizations is resulting in policymakers hearing the perspectives of more farmers and land stewards, and particularly more Black, Indigenous, and people of color. I’m confident that the next Farm Bill will be more inclusive thanks to this work.”
For more information about this policy work please contact Colin Bogle at [email protected].