CALIFORNIA FARMER POLITICAL LEADERSHIP FELLOWSHIP

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. Fellows selected through an application process (see How to Apply) 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.

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, the proposed fellowship will lead to more farmers and ranchers deeply engaging in agricultural policies and legislation. The proposed project is intentionally designed to support producers in their personal confidence and community- and coalition-building skills. They 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.

Program Outcomes

The fellowship program has been designed to achieve the following outcomes for its participants: 

  • Identifying and learning about relevant policies from the Young Farmers California policy platform
  • Coordinating in-district meetings and farm tours with elected officials
  • Planning and attending lobby days
  • Enhance community leadership among farmers and farm advocates by launching Young Farmers chapters and mobilizing regional farmer-led coalitions
  • Understanding, creating, and running campaigns, including policy advocacy efforts and collaborative initiatives
  • Running for local board and governance positions
  • Establish confidence in one’s own story and ability, and clarify who you’re representing
  • Gain an understanding of power structures, nodes, and dynamics in California agriculture

Activities 

  • One in-person meeting of Fellows
  • Four in-district meetings
  • One Sacramento Lobby Day
  • Six webinars
  • Two field trips
  • On-going personal support

(In-person events may need to be virtual depending on the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic.) 

Program Audience: 

The California Farmer Political Leadership Fellowship is for young producers engaged in sustainable agriculture and interested in holding a position in an agricultural governance entity or running a policy campaign from a community organizing framework. The program is designed to support those coming from communities that have been excluded from policy making and formal structures of power. The cohort will consist of Fellows from different parts of California.

Expectations

  • 120 hours of participation over 12 months, minimum
  • Participation in all gatherings and programming
  • Interest in policy, though may not have direct experience, and desire to run a campaign or for an elected position in the next two years

Qualifications

  • Applicant must be a farm business owner of a market-oriented farm or ranch, or farm worker for at least 5 years.
  • Applicant must be under the age of 40 as of the application deadline.
  • Applicant must use farm practices that protect natural resources for future generations.
  • Applicant must be a resident of and operating their business in California.
  • Applicant must identify as being part of a community that has been marginalized from policy-making such as Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color
  • There are no preferences for what food products applicants produce on their operations.

Support

Each fellow will receive a $7,500 honorarium. Distribution will be in four installments, pending fulfillment of expectations. Travel for Fellowship convenings will be covered by the program. In-lieu of travel funds, we will offer digital device and internet access support. We recognize that due to limited rural broadband, enabling increased data packages and providing devices that can use video apps is essential for many farmers who wish to participate.

Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

 

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