RAFI-USA’s Climate and Equity Policy Project puts farmers of color at the center of policy conversations by providing funding and support to groups predominantly led by or serving farmers of color in order to engage in climate-related policy advocacy for the 2023 Farm Bill. In August 2023, in the second round of the project’s funding, Waverley Street Foundation and the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation in collaboration with RAFI and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) awarded funding to 13 additional BIPOC-led and serving organizations.
Grantee projects include knowledge sharing and training sessions on what the Farm Bill is and how it impacts our food system; advocacy and outreach to local legislators; information sharing sessions on sustainable farming practices and government assistance; capacity building and grassroots base-building initiatives; and efforts to convene farmers and other stakeholders in in-person policy discussions and how to reimburse them for their time.
Africulture works with historically underserved farmer communities in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Funding provided by the Climate and Equity Policy Project will help Africulture gather, organize, and listen to farmers and then share their policy concerns and needs through information gathering and teaching sessions around climate-smart farming, carbon markets, regenerative agriculture, and conservation easements.
Agfirst Community Cooperative
Agfirst works with Black farmers in Kentucky to provide them with the technical assistance, equipment, and access to opportunities needed for them to be successful. They will use the funding to convene a two-day conference for socially disadvantaged and BIPOC farmers meant to raise awareness of climate change’s impact on farming as well as how to advocate for themselves on a congressional level.
Agroecology Commons works to promote knowledge sharing, community action, collective healing, and global solidarity around food systems. Operating out of the Bay Area, they plan on using their funding to implement a comprehensive priority assessment and policy analysis, with targeted training sessions and outreach materials meant to empower farmers within and beyond their network to better understand the Farm Bill process.
Black Soil Kentucky
Black Soil KY is a statewide organization representing the .05% of Kentucky’s farmers who are Black. Black Soil KY engages in grassroots organizing, advocacy and equitable market development, and engagement. They serve as a bridge to information and have a proven track record of interpreting complex issues and policy such as the Farm Bill as well as complex grant opportunities and processes, in order for farmers to gain confidence and access to this critical infrastructure. Black Soil KY’s Climate & Equity project will leverage its successful event-based education model to immerse rookies with experts on policy in culturally competent and interactive engagements.
Black Urban Growers
For over 10 years, BUGs has been at the forefront of advocating for Black agriculture through its annual Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners (BUGs) National Conference. Since 2010, this conference has served as a platform for more than 600 Black conference attendees to foster dialogue, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities, reimagining Black futures through the advocacy of food and farm issues. BUGs will use its grant to increase internal organizational capacity, broaden the reach of its grassroots advocacy, and allow for a five-part storytelling campaign to help engage in strategic communications and help shift narratives surrounding Black agriculture, land access, and climate change.
Black Yield Institute
The Black Yield Institute seeks to address the inequitable distribution of food and resources in Black communities within the South and Southwest Baltimore region. The project will focus on land access and retention, challenging systemic barriers to land ownership and sustainable agriculture. Black Yield Institute will advocate for changes in agricultural and land-use policies, collaborate with other organizations and stakeholders, educate policymakers and the public about the challenges faced by community farmers and propose solutions, support the development of programs that provide financial and technical assistance to farmers from marginalized communities, and promote land reform initiatives that prioritize equitable distribution of land and address historical injustices.
Kentucky Black Farmers
Kentucky Black Farmers is an alliance of farmers and stakeholders with a long-term commitment to engaging with farmers of color and organizational partners throughout Appalachia in order to help build policy capacity. This grant will allow them to conduct power mapping of partners and resources in the area in order to work towards a subregional policy alliance, and to hire a part-time Policy Outreach Coordinator.
Peace Garden Project
The Peace Garden Project partners with stakeholders within the Eastern North Carolina food system to educate their community about climate and environmental issues. The funding provided will allow them to enter the policy realm by developing a farmer advisory committee, funding staff policy work, developing and implementing a strategic plan, and hosting trainings on the Farm Bill for farmers and youth.
Springfield Food Policy Council/40 Acres Farms
SFPC works across Hampden County, Massachusetts with farmers of color and their communities. It operates 40 Acres Farms, a collectively owned farming operation. They will use the grant funding to educate and mobilize BIPOC farmers across Hampden County and Statewide about what the Farm Bill is and how its policies and priorities impact their lives, as well as how to engage with legislators; and conduct strategic storytelling on how farmers are impacted by climate change. It will also allow them to retain their policy intern.
Sprouts and Spice Foundation
Sprouts and Spice’s mission is to provide resources to BIPOC farmers and ranchers that will help move our communities toward accessible, healthy, sustainable, and equitable food systems. The Climate and Equity Policy Project’s grant will allow them to conduct grassroots outreach, host trainings, distribute policy materials, facilitate group reads of the Farm Bill, and empower farming communities to better engage with their elected representatives.
The Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive
Also known as CoFED, the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive looks forward to using the proceeds of this grant to sharpen cooperative farmers’ and land workers’ political education and understanding of the Farm Bill. Leveraging CoFED’s CoFUND program, which supports QTBIPOC farmers, land workers, food workers, and land stewards through monetary and technical assistance, this grant will support continued engagement and partnership with QTBIPOC cooperative farmers as they develop first-person narratives around Farm Bill policy issues and impacts.
Urban Growers Collective
Urban Growers Collective partners with local farmers based out of the Chicago area to provide underserved communities access to fresh produce. The group focuses on tackling food injustice by promoting food sovereignty, collective ownership of farms, and the provision of technical assistance and mentorship to local growers. Thanks to the grant, UGC will be able to update internal infrastructure, engage with regional power-building networks, and participate in knowledge-sharing and community development initiatives meant to empower emerging BIPOC farmers.
West Georgia Farmers Cooperative
The West Georgia Farmer’s Cooperative’s mission is to assist in rebuilding a viable local food system and promote economic development within their communities. WGFC promotes and develops family farming and serves as an advocate for African-American farmers through education, workshops, training, forums, and partnerships. The provision of funds will allow WGFC to enhance its internal operating capacities and to support policy training and workshops for farmers and their associated partners to engage in climate and equity policy work.