American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fund started sending out $1,000 grant checks to 1,000 farmers across the country as America sees unprecedented disruptions to the food system. 

The funds are going to help small to mid-size producers that sell directly to consumers, foodservice businesses, or institutions. 

All of the funds from the AFT are being given to farmers directly and with no restrictions on how to use them, only that they use the money to support modifications to their business model that will get them through until normal markets return. 

Direct-to-consumer farmers have been severely impacted by “social distancing” policies and closures that have kept them from selling to their usual customers and necessitated they make dramatic shifts in the way they do business to stay afloat. 

“We’re helping in a small way where the need is huge,” says American Farm Trust President and CEO John Piotti. “We believe the farmers who sell directly to consumers were the most immediately impacted when the pandemic set in.” 

He says farmers who sell directly to consumers were also hurt because there is no federal safety net in place to help them during tough times.