Farmers of color in the U.S. have long been disadvantaged by systemic and institutional racism, including discrimination in accessing credit, loans, resources, and markets. As a result, farmers of color make up just 4.6% of all U.S. farmers.
RAFI-USA founded the Farmers of Color Network (FOCN) in 2017 to support these farmers and grow their numbers. The Network provides farmer-led technical assistance and funding opportunities, and hosts farm tours, networking events, and gatherings to highlight ancestral traditions and knowledge, as well as explore market solutions. Currently, the program serves farmers of color in the Southeast U.S., lower mid-Atlantic, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
In 2020, FOCN responded quickly to the disruptions in the food system from the coronavirus pandemic. We helped farmers who had lost their markets connect with new buyers, including facilitating direct-to-consumer purchasing and assisting emergency feeding programs that distribute fresh food sourced from farmers of color to people hard-hit by the pandemic. The Network also supported farmers in adopting COVID-19 safety protocols and answered many questions.
This project is generously supported in part by a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as well as WhyHunger/Vitafusion, Weaver Street Market, Rosenbaum Family Foundation, Liberating Investment in Food & Farm Ecosystem, The Morton H. Meyerson Family Foundation, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Additional support for FOCN is provided by The Schmidt Family Foundation/11th Hour Project and the Seeds, Soul and Culture Fund/New Field Foundation.
B. Ray Jeffers, Farm and Outreach Specialist, [email protected]