Climate change is an increasing and persistent threat to agriculture, disrupting food production across the country and the rest of the world. In a 2017 survey of young farmers across the country, we found that 66% of young farmers are experiencing more unpredictable weather, and 53% attribute these shifts to climate change. The agriculture sector, however, is uniquely poised to be able to directly mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change through practices that sequester carbon in the soil and provide other ecosystem services to build on-farm resilience.
The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) envisions a just future where farming is free of racial violence, accessible to communities, oriented towards environmental well-being, and concerned with health over profit. We believe farmers, ranchers, and land stewards can contribute to the transformation of society and are change-makers. Though we have inherited an economic system designed to maximize profits, we structure our farms to feed our communities. Motivated by the looming climate crisis, we farm for collective resilience. Despite farm policies that exclude us from participation, we organize and persist. In carving out spaces for ourselves to plant, cultivate, nurture and feed, we are uniquely positioned to advocate for and change policy to create this transformation.
About the Fellowship
We believe that we can contest the corporate climate narrative and build true resilience through a project founded on our own proven theory of change: young farmer leaders working in community and supported by a national infrastructure are the most effective advocates for political and societal change. The National Young Farmers Coalition’s Power in Land, Agriculture, Climate, and Equity (PLACE) Fellowship will build a grassroots effort to replace the corporate climate agenda and promote a more equitable paradigm that positions farmers – especially young, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC farmers – as the source of innovation for justice and climate resilience.
Applications open on August 1, 2022, and close on August 22, 2022.
This fellowship will take place over the course of five months, convening 10 farmer leaders from across the country in a BIPOC-majority, queer abundant cohort to develop their knowledge at the intersection of corporate power, climate, and farmland access. We will support these fellows to activate their communities to advocate with key elected officials while elevating their voices and experience to underscore that investment in equitable farmland access – not corporate innovation – is the best pathway towards sustainability. With the 2023 Farm Bill approaching, we believe that now is the moment for action. The 2023 Farm Bill is a critical opportunity to bring our voices together and build power for change!
Selected fellows will participate in a series of five monthly virtual webinars and one in-person gathering in March 2023 in Washington, D.C. Through the fellowship, participants will receive training on advocacy and organizing strategies, antitrust and systems change, climate policy, and effective storytelling. By completion of the fellowship, participants will have created a creative action project (such as an op-ed, a blog post, a video, a zine, etc.) to be shared in a news outlet or on the Young Farmers website that discusses their experience as a farmer and how they’ve been impacted by climate change.
Fellows will also engage their communities to advocate with key elected officials by hosting an in-district or other meeting with their Member(s) of Congress, where they will discuss the intersections between climate, power, and agriculture, and advocate for the inclusion of Young Farmers’ climate priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill.
Fellows will also participate in a fly-in to Washington, D.C. in March 2023 to lobby their Members of Congress for equitable climate action in the 2023 Farm Bill.
Pandemic Safety and Flexibility
The pandemic continues to cause significant hardship in our communities, particularly for BIPOC. The pandemic has also been a catalyst for unprecedented cultural and policy change. The National Young Farmers Coalition will facilitate this fellowship online to create a safe and healthy space during this pandemic. As currently planned, the fellowship will include an in-person fly-in to Washington, D.C. to advocate for equitable climate policy in the 2023 Farm Bill.
While the sessions will be held regularly every month, this pandemic has taught us to be flexible. Dates may potentially change during the course of the fellowship. Our fly-in to D.C. will be held with updated COVID-19 guidelines in place, and may be virtual depending on pandemic conditions at the time of the event.
Who Can Apply
- The final cohort will be majority-BIPOC, and we encourage applicants to apply who identify as being part of a community that has been marginalized or excluded from policymaking processes, such as farmers who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, immigrants, etc.
- Aspiring farmers and ranchers from all backgrounds and identities and residing in any state or US territory are eligible to apply. We especially encourage and will prioritize applicants who are: BIPOC, LGBTQ+, women, disabled, immigrants, and/or veterans. Participants must be 18 years of age or older.
- This fellowship is intended for current and aspiring farmers, ranchers, and land practitioners who are interested in or already passionate about advocacy as a tool for achieving structural change.
- We generally define “aspiring farmers and ranchers” as anyone who has not yet achieved a farming or rancher position or who has lost a farming or rancher position, especially those who may not have access to the privileges that would allow for their aspiring farming or ranching operations to take place.
- We generally define “current farmers and ranchers” as anyone who has achieved a farming or rancher position including: farm owners, farm/ranch workers, harvesters, farm/ranch assistants, etc.
- Land practitioners include folks who participate in community growing efforts or land access and protection for growers in their community.
Outcomes for the Fellowship
- Base-building: Fellows understand their role and power in building grassroots power for systemic change.
- Advocacy and organizing: Fellows develop their leadership skills and are confident in their ability to advocate for policy change at the local, state, and federal levels. Fellows will also plan and organize a convening of organizations to discuss in-depth strategies for urgent action at the intersection of climate, land access, and antitrust.
- Information and resources: Fellows will have a base-level understanding of climate, land, antitrust, and the ways in which the three intersect. Fellows will have a clear understanding of these issues and will be able to serve as leaders and a resource in their communities. Fellows will understand the structural barriers and opportunities related to comprehensive climate action.
- Community: Fellows build strong relationships with others in their cohort and others in the climate and agriculture grassroots advocacy space, both during and beyond the fellowship.
- Storytelling: Fellows create a final creative action project (writing an op-ed or blog post for the Young Farmers website, creating a video, creating a zine, etc.) that highlights their experience as a farmer and touches upon the climate, antitrust, and policy nexus.
What to Expect
Selected fellows will join a 5-month program wherein they will complete both programming and independent work, and receive a $4,500 honorarium for their time in the fellowship, as well as ongoing coaching and 1:1 support.
Fellows selected will join a 5-month program beginning September 2022 and will:
- Attend five 2-hour virtual webinar sessions (once per month, September 2022 – February 2023).
- Receive a $4,500 honorarium for their participation. $2,500 is to cover fellows’ time in the training sessions, and $2,000 is to cover fellows’ time spent on the development of a creative action project and organizing their communities to advocate with key elected officials.
- Connect with guest speakers across sectors working for equity in agriculture and organize a convening of organizations to discuss in-depth strategies for urgent action at the intersection between climate, land access, and antitrust.
- Attend a Washington, D.C. fly-in in March 2023.
- Get 1:1 coaching and ongoing support.
- Develop a creative action project.
If you have any questions please contact Lotanna Obodozie, our Climate Campaign Director, at email@example.com. Thank you!