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Brighter Future Fund

An American Farmland Trust grant program providing direct support to farmers and ranchers across the country. 100% of donations are given to farmers. Make a gift today.

About

The Brighter Future Fund was launched in 2020 to assist farmers in successfully launching, growing and sustaining farms in the face of forces impacting the food and agricultural system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, changing markets, severe weather, and climate change. The Fund was initially seeded with a generous contribution from Tillamook, one of America’s favorite farmer-owned co-ops.

A major commitment of this program is to uplift, support, and amplify the work of a wide range of farmers.

In 2021, funding will be allocated to help farmers 1) Improve farm viability; 2) Access, transfer, or permanently protect farmland; or 3) Adopt regenerative agricultural practices.

Applicant Eligibility

In recognition of the need for greater equity and inclusion for all groups who have been, and still are, marginalized, this year the Brighter Future Fund will focus on providing resources to farmers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+).

While this is a national grant program, applicants from the six New England states will be managed separately. Learn more about how to apply for grants in New England.

Farmers who received a 2020 Brighter Future Fund grant are not eligible to receive a grant again in 2021. However, those who applied but were not awarded funds during our 2020 Bright Future Microgrant Program are encouraged to apply again.

Additional information that will be taken into consideration when making funding decisions include:

  • Priority for individuals who dedicate a majority of their work time to farming or ranching
  • Need-based consideration of projects
  • Diversity in farms as determined by the dollar value of farm products sold, acres in farming and farm products grown, raised or produced.

Award Amount and Project Eligibility

Grants will be awarded in amounts up to $5,000 per project. A project may involve one or more individual farmers or farm families. Only one grant can be awarded per farmer/farm family.

Funding for this program is limited. As funding remains, awards will be made an ongoing basis to eligible applicants that fulfill all application requirements and meet selection criteria.

Land tenure (ownership, a lease, license, or other written agreement) for a reasonable time period will be required for projects that involve on-the-ground improvements to farmland. If tenure is less than 5years, please be prepared to demonstrate in the application that the tenure is sufficient in relation to the improvements being made or services being provided.

Review the grant guidelines for full eligibility requirements and an example of fundable projects.

Application Deadline and Instructions

Grants applications will begin to be accepted in late-November 2021.

Applications will be reviewed and awarded in the order the applications are received based on eligibility. AFT will continue to receive applications and make awards until available funds are expended. All services supported by the grant must be completed within one year of the date of the Letter of Award (extensions may be granted upon request but AFT encourages early spend-down). For grants funding long-range succession and transfer planning services, written statements showing progress/milestones may be requested.

To apply for a grant, please fill out this application form.

AFT is committed to making the Brighter Future Fund accessible to the widest population possible and is pleased to be able to offer limited translation services for applicants. If interested, please email brighterfuture@farmland.org.

Award Notification Process

If approved for a grant, AFT will send electronic notification in the form of a Letter of Award to the applicant within 60 days. The Letter of Award will detail the approved timeline and process for payment based on the individual project.

Contact

For general questions or requests for assistance, email brighterfuture@farmland.org.

For media inquires, contact Lori Sallet, Director of Media Relations, at lsallet@farmland.org.

Past Grantees

Meet 2020 Grant Recipients

In 2020, AFT, in partnership with Tillamook, awarded grants up to $5,000 to farmers across the country. Read about some of those farmers and how the grants impacted their agricultural journeys.

America’s agricultural community faced unique challenges at the hands of COVID-19. The challenges were magnified in underserved communities, severely impacting farmers who are women, Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), and/or who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LBGTQ). Across the country, people witnessed how essential farmers and ranchers are, and simultaneously that we must do more for those serving on the frontlines of our food system.

In 2020, American Farmland Trust provided more than $2.5 million to 2,000 farmers, helping when help was needed most. Though relief was critical, the need remains to help farmers build towards a more secure, resilient future.