When the pandemic dramatically impacted the livelihoods of the farmers it supports, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) quickly mobilized response efforts.
“We knew farmers would need support to make it through the crisis and continue to operate their businesses to provide food for the rest of us,” said Paul Towers, Executive Director of CAFF, the Davis-based organization whose mission is to build sustainable food and farming systems through advocacy and on-the-ground programs that create more resilient family farms, communities, and ecosystems.
CAFF immediately offered resources to help farmers pivot their operations. It also launched the California Family Farmer Emergency Fund at the Foundation to support farmers acutely affected by the crisis, with an emphasis on supporting farmers of color and immigrant farmers.
It made dozens of rapid-response microgrants through the spring and summer. Then the wildfires started, bringing more loss to those who make a living by working the land. The Fund’s advisory committee immediately began offering direct support to those in the agricultural community impacted by wildfires.
To date, CAFF has awarded 103 microgrants totaling more than $257,000. Over 90% of the grants have been awarded to farmers who fall through the cracks of traditional safety nets.
“The hard reality is that these crises aren’t over yet. And they won’t be the last our farms and communities face,” says Towers. “With the continuing threats caused by the climate crisis, and the rising costs of living in California, our family farmers continue to struggle every day to grow healthy food for their communities. We see it as our role to support these farmers and to grow a more just and vibrant food and farming system in California.”
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