About the Program

The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) is launching the California Young Farmer Political Leadership Fellowship to support underrepresented young farmers in gaining positions within agricultural governance entities and in leading policy campaigns for farmer viability. Young farmers and ranchers of color who use sustainable practices are underrepresented in California’s policy boards, agricultural advocacy groups, local water districts, conservation districts, and other decision-making bodies. As a result, California does not benefit from the knowledge of farmers of color, and these producers are denied a critical opportunity to help shape their conditions for success.

Our agricultural system has long divided those who work the land and those who can make decisions about the land and their own livelihoods. That divide between workers and owners and between the disenfranchised and those who can vote is along racial and gender lines. We must equitably resource those who have been left out of policy-making to participate. We must, if we are to fulfill the promise of democracy, ensure their informed, confident, and empowered participation.

This program aims to build power for farmers of color.

This Fellowship is designed to address these representational gaps and inequities through an educational fellowship that would guide four young farmers and ranchers towards agricultural leadership positions and policy campaigns in California. By encouraging young producers to take a more active role in agricultural designing and implementing policies and programs, and by providing them with the knowledge and resources to activate and organize their local peers and partners, this fellowship will lead to more farmers and ranchers deeply engaging in agricultural policies and legislation. This project is intentionally designed to support producers in their personal confidence and community- and coalition-building skills. Fellows will graduate with the skills, confidence, and technical knowledge to be able to engage their peers around policy and structural change. By taking the time to nurture a small and diverse group of young leaders, we believe we will gain power for young farmers and ranchers and long-disenfranchised communities of color.

We will open up Fellowship applications for the following year in Summer 2022. Fellows selected through an application process will join a 12-month program wherein they will receive training on agriculturally-relevant governance, policy campaigns, community mobilization, a $7,500 honorarium, and on-going personal support.

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