This is the second episode of a six-part series focused on the one thing everyone in our network – from farmers to policymakers, organizers to corporate partners – is laser-focused on right now: the 2023 Farm Bill. In this episode, we're joined by Dãnia Davy, Director of Land Retention and Advocacy for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and Alita Kelly, Land Organizing Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition. Throughout our conversation we’ll explore some of the ways that the 2023 Farm Bill can directly address the land access crisis happening right now in the US. We end our episode with Holly Rippon-Butler, Young Farmers Land Policy Director. Holly tells us why each and every one of us should be a land advocate, how young farmers are building powerful solutions to the land access crisis across the country, and a bit about what's next for our land policy priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill.
This is the second episode of a six-part series focused on the one thing everyone in our network – from farmers to policymakers, organizers to corporate partners – is laser-focused on right now: the 2023 Farm Bill.
In this episode, we're joined by Dãnia Davy, Director of Land Retention and Advocacy for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and Alita Kelly, Land Organizing Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition. Throughout our conversation we’ll explore some of the ways that the 2023 Farm Bill can directly address the land access crisis happening right now in the US.
We end our episode with Holly Rippon-Butler, Young Farmers Land Policy Director. Holly tells us why each and every one of us should be a land advocate, how young farmers are building powerful solutions to the land access crisis across the country, and a bit about what's next for our land policy priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill.
Sign up for our One Million Acres for the Future campaign here and take action by asking your Members of Congress to support the Increasing Land Access, Security, and Opportunities Act.
Learn more about the Federation for Southern Cooperatives at www.federation.coop.
Learn more about the LASO Act here, and the Increasing Land, Capital, Market Access Program and its recent awardees here.
Become a National Young Farmers Coalition member at youngfarmers.org/join for only $1/year.
Produced by Jessica Manly and Evan Flom.
Edited by Hannah Beal.
Original podcast art by SJ Brekosky.
Gratitude to Chipotle and 11th Hour for sponsoring our Young Farmers' land campaign and to the our many partner organizations for furthering this important work with us.
Jessica Manly: [00:00:00] This is the Young Farmers Podcast. I'm Jessica Manley with the National Young Farmers Coalition. Today we continue our six part series focused on the 2023 Farm Bill with two conversations about the number one challenge facing young and BIPOC farmers today: access to land. Roughly 40% of US farmland will need a new farmer over the next two decades and is at risk of being sold out of agriculture forever.
This farm bill is our last best chance to ensure that this land transitions equitably to the next generation. Today we'll hear two conversations about all things land and land policy. First, Dãnia Davey, director of Land Retention and Advocacy for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Dãnia and Young Farmers Land Organizing Director Alita Kelly, [00:01:00] explore how something as massive and opaque as the farm bill, a thousand pages of federal policy can actually help get the next generation of farmers and ranchers on the land.
Dãnia shares about the origin of the federation during the civil rights era and how the race-based discrimination that was so prevalent back then continues today. And she digs into how the power and potential of today's young farmer movement is reckoning with a troubled past on the land. We end our episode today with a brief chat with Holly Rippon-Butler Young Farmers Land Policy Director.
Holly tells us why each and every one of us should be a land advocate, how young farmers are building powerful solutions to the land access crisis across the country, and a bit about what's next for our land policy priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill. In spoiler alert, we've got some very exciting news from the U S D A to announce, so stay tuned.
But first, here's Alita and Dãnia.
Alita Kelly: Yeah, let's get into it. I wanna know what [00:02:00] inspired you to work in agriculture and why is food and farming important to you?
Dãnia Davy: Yeah, sure. So my background is actually in public health when I was an undergrad. I am an immigrant from Jamaica. My mother's Chinese Jamaican. And so the expectation was that I become a doctor.
That was kind of just what I was expected to do with my life and. When I was an undergrad, I became really interested in racial disparities in health outcomes, in particular maternal mortality disparities between African-American and white women in the US and in general, why it seemed like race played any role in health outcomes.
And from that I figured I no longer wanted to go to medical school. I wanted to kind of go down the policy path. But my parents, as I said, being immigrants were also, that wasn't acceptable. So I had to go to law school to be able to continue to be a part of my family. And [00:03:00] I in, in law school took a lot of public health courses.
I thought that that was kind of gonna be. The approach to this work. And then one summer I was in Mississippi working on a civil rights discrimination lawsuit. And during that summer I had the lucky coincidence of meeting my now colleague Ben Burkett, who is a farmer, a kind of a legend in the world of cooperative development and ag policy.
And he basically, explained to me what was happening to African-American farmers. He explained to me about heirs property, and I decided from that conversation that that was what I wanted to do with my life. And I, I wrote up a proposal for a fellowship. It's the only job that I applied for out of law school and I got it.
And so I started my career at the Land Loss Prevention Project, specifically working on issues for airs, property land owners. I did a lot of estate planning work, but I [00:04:00] also did our sustainable Ag policy work and that relationship between land loss and the federation started my kind of training into the way that the federation did work around cooperatives.
And so I find myself kind of. Fortunate to be living my dream this meandering road that landed me here has really been everything that I, I dreamed that it could be.
Alita Kelly: What a toolkit you have. It's stacked. It's completely stacked. That's awesome. How do you see land access being a challenge for the farmers, especially the farmers of color in your network? I know you talked about heirs property. What are some other issues around land access that you come across?
Dãnia Davy: Where I think about this issue really starts at the origin of the Federation. So, the Federation was founded in 1967 by 22 cooperative [00:05:00] businesses at the intersection of the black cooperative development and civil rights movements.
And so the role that land played during the civil rights movement and the role that black farmers played during that time were kind of twofold. One was black farmers were independent business owners. They were independent land owners, so they were able to do things within the civil rights movement that others just weren't able to do.
They mortgaged their land. They sometimes provided safe houses for civil rights workers who were under constant threat of physical violence for participating in that movement. And there was also the role of. Black sharecroppers and tenant farmers who were leasing land and if they in any way engaged in the civil rights movement, or sometimes even if they just registered to vote, they would be kicked off of the land.
And so land really became a very significant piece [00:06:00] of helping rural African-Americans access. Their civil rights and the federation's role in that connection was that we really looked at the cooperative model as a business structure that would allow groups of folks to come together, share their resources.
Purchase land and have a farming business that all of the means and modes of production and distribution were owned by those folks. And I really like to think about how the view was not, what don't we have, what do we need to get started establishing wealth in our communities, but what do we already have?
And so folks had land those that were lucky enough to have land. Or even the starting point of accessing land. They worked with others to buy land, and there was the Panola Land Buyers Association in Alabama, Shirley Sherrod and the late Reverend Charles Sherrod, [00:07:00] they had new communities. The first community land trust in America, which was in Southwest Georgia and the role that the Land Assistance Fund, which is the second piece of our name, it was previously the Emergency Land Fund, played was in the recognition that there were some African-American communities that were able to ban together and access land or, some folks that inherited land, but the rates at which that land was being lost based on racial terror tactics was extremely high.
So in particular, as I said, with heirs property, there were those who inherited land without the benefit of having an estate plan. Usually because of a lack of access to legal services, and those folks were very precariously placed in their relationship to land because if one of those legal heirs as defined by the states intestacy laws didn't contribute toward the taxes or sold their interest, now [00:08:00] all of a sudden, Where there could have been a thriving agribusiness on that property, it's now susceptible and vulnerable to loss.
And so our land retention work is really around saving what land we already own in this community and being able to use that to develop thriving, cooperative businesses so that additional land can be added to that community wealth.
Alita Kelly: Thank you for touching on the, the rich history that BIPOC communities have around cooperative solidarity during hard times.
I think that's, that's important and should inspire our work today. How has that work shifted from, you know, 40 years ago to today?
Dãnia Davy: Not much has changed. Unfortunately, that same race-based discrimination that made it difficult for African-Americans that were recently freed from enslavement to accumulate land.[00:09:00]
Some of those very same tactics are playing out in the same ways. For example, the ways in which farmers are able to access credit. That's truly never been equitable, and that really goes all the way back to the Freedman's Bureau and the Southern Homestead Act when there has been action taken by the government to set aside land during the New Deal era, the new settlement communities, whenever there were any large pieces of legislation that established institutions to make land accessible to African-Americans.
For the most part, those systems were undermined by race-based discrimination. There were always these loopholes and policies, for example, with the new settlement. The resettlement communities during the New Deal era, there were supposed to be accessible land allotments that were provided to low [00:10:00] income whites and black folks who wanted to continue to farm land.
But a lot of times, the black folks who were able to acquire land in these resettlement communities, they had the poorest land stock, so maybe flood prone land. Or land that was not going to be very productive agriculturally. Sometimes they got land that was coastal land. And so unfortunately that land was always kind of positioned to be under productive.
That kind of sets black folks in America down this path of having land that is not necessarily going to garner. The best price at market. We know that once beachland started be being seen as a development opportunity for resorts, almost all of that African-American owned beach land on the eastern southeastern coast of the US was very quickly sold away from [00:11:00] African-Americans at way lower value than what others could imagine.
And so when land is being undervalued like that just by being owned by black folks, Then you see that the equity that is accumulating in that land is going to be behind the curve. And when you have a problem accumulating equity and you have a problem accessing credit, because of that lack of equity, it makes it really difficult to get access to capital to buy additional land.
So you see that the ways in which land policies have been laid out ever since African Americans. Have been released from the burden of enslavement. There's never been efforts to make equitable access to that equity. So today, the way that that plays out is that we still see African Americans going in to take loans, to buy land to farm, to build a home, to buy [00:12:00] equipment, to have a successful farm business enterprise.
And they're being denied. And there's that argument by the lenders that it's not race-based discrimination, it's based on a lack of equity. But in reality, that lack of equity is by design. And so that still continues to play itself out in our agricultural lending institutions. As well as, like I said, the first Heirs property report that was sanctioned by Congress was conducted by the emergency land.
Fund the predecessor to the Land Assistance Fund. And 41 years ago, the Emergency Land Fund conducted a study and made 19 policy recommendations. The first of those policy recommendations to make its way into federal legislation was in 2018 when we saw the Heris Property Relending program. And language allowing for ears, property landowners [00:13:00] to get a farm number.
So over the history of the federation, as much as we've seen some progress in some aspects of black folks having better opportunities to produce as farmers, we've seen those underlying. Wealth inequities really driving black folks away from agricultural production because if you're having difficulty being a successful agribusiness owner, it's really difficult to encourage and incentivize that next generation to participate.
And so just from that cultural perspective, you see a lot of the younger generation moving away from the farms. So it really functions. Both at a political level, at a legislative level, as well as at a community kind of socioeconomic sociopolitical level where we need to just reeducate our communities on what those businesses can do for the [00:14:00] wealth of that community.
And that's why I'm so excited about the next generation new and beginning farmers, because their commitment to really learning that history and sharing that history, I think is a really significant. Step towards healing that wound.
Alita Kelly: Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you so much for bringing up how our culture has shifted from all of this trauma around land access and dispossession of land over the years.
What you laid out is, you know how policy has influenced this landscape over the years, and now we're talking about how policy can reckon with the fact. That it's really been the method for how these inequities have played out. So we are at an imperative moment right now from a policy perspective with the [00:15:00] 2023 Farm Bill, how do you think the farm bill can improve land access for young and BIPOC farmers?
Dãnia Davy: I wanna start with a personal, a personal story, you know? The nonprofit industrial complex is its own thing. And you know, I actually thought I retired from this work about almost 10 years ago when my daughter was born because that whole hustling to get a grant kinda, it kinda drains your passion.
But when George Floyd was murdered and we saw all of the unrest in this country around this lingering. Racial terror and racial violence. That really jolted me into recognizing that that original love that I felt for black farmers and the work of organizations like the Federation, that really inspired me to return to this work precisely because I knew that the farm bill was coming [00:16:00] up and I knew the potential of such a large piece of legislation.
For having an impact. I see the connection to the Farm Bill as the opportunity to have people-first legislation. It's the second largest Omnibus bill, second only to our defense legislation. So that shows you what a significant priority for our tax dollars food and feeding programs and agricultural policy is.
It's a piece of legislation where the dog whistle of anti-blackness resurfaces very, intentionally every five to seven years. And if you pay attention to what's going on with the nutrition titles, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Back when I was a child, it was the welfare queen, and that language always kind of resurfaced right around the time of the Farm Bill.
And so just knowing that on a societal level, the farm [00:17:00] bill has been used as a tool to enact and enable anti-blackness. I feel very strongly about working on it. And so here at the Federation, the way that we have gotten our members engaged is to really not just focus on. Set asides or subsidies, but really how do we have a racial equity farm bill?
And so all of our farm bill priorities are focused expressly on racial equity, and that's what we want to see this farm bill accomplish. In particular, we really want to see black folks being centered in their access to credit in the ways in which loan collateralization disproportionately burdens black farmers who take out a loan.
So the priorities that we have are very much related to driving racial equity from the perspective of the actual needs of [00:18:00] farmers. With regard to land access, we're looking specifically around tapping into that what is estimated to be 24 billion of un-accessed black-owned wealth, which is caught in the air property status.
And so we have a particular marker bill that we're working towards with regard to pairing up the air property. Relending program resources with the Debt for Nature program that exists at U S D A so that we can have kind of a trifecta of folks taking resources to clear their title, resolving that legal jeopardy of the land, but then putting conservation practices in place and getting debt forgiveness so that we're preserving the land.
From a conservation perspective, and then we're also helping folks be positioned to have a successful farming business. So that's kind of one of the approaches that we're [00:19:00] using. What do we already have? How do we protect it? How do we build institutions to expand what we have and just replicating that wherever our members live.
Alita Kelly: Such powerful work. When do you feel most connected to grassroots organizing and. How does that influence your work?
Dãnia Davy: I feel most connected when I am out in the field. As a matter of fact, we're, we have our summer law student interns that have started, many of whom have never even set foot on a farm. So part of their training is that we do farm visits before we host estate planning clinics in the communities that we serve. And seeing that next generation of attorney make that connection between the legal work that we're doing and the communities that we're serving, I don't think that anything else brings me, [00:20:00] no offense to my friends and family, but I don't think that there's anything else that feeds my soul as much as that being around the farmers in their homes, in their context, seeing their expertise, the alchemy, all of the things, all of these powers that our communities possess, but inspiring that next generation to see it too. That's what really gives me hope about the future.
Alita Kelly: Beautiful. Absolutely. Yeah there's no way that you can replicate that on a video or you know, even over a call, like being right there on the land and witnessing that beauty is just so powerful.
Dãnia Davy: Absolutely. Yeah.
Alita Kelly: What, in your opinion, is the best vehicle to activate farmers and allies around this farm bill?
Dãnia Davy: I think that the strategy that the Federation is using is a, is a pretty effective one, really starting with our [00:21:00] members articulating what their goals and priorities are.
I think that what's most important is really amplifying those messages from the folks themselves. So to the extent that we can allow our members to use their voices and tell these stories, not just to their elected officials, but also sharing their voices to have conversations at the dinner table, having conversations with folks at their church, having those conversations to really educate others.
On the significance and the potential impact of the farm bill on our daily lives. I think that is the, the foundation of truly engaging the community, and that's where the earth inspiring the farmers to tell us about things like what they think that we should do to mitigate climate change. Those solutions are in the experiences of our community [00:22:00] members.
And so just my goal is always to have that farmer voice and experience centered because this work, my boss uses the example of a speedboat versus a cruise ship where there are all these folks with this view. Looking out at the same thing. Bringing their own perspectives, their own strengths and problem solving.
And that's the way that they make those connections between their experiences and policies. And so I think any opportunities where farmers are getting together to validate those experiences, I think that's really what it comes down to.
Alita Kelly: I usually say it's a marathon and not a sprint.
Dãnia Davy: Absolutely. Same idea.
Alita Kelly: It's different words. So earlier you talked about like the heartache of George Floyd leading you to reenter this work. What have you found that sustains your joy [00:23:00] so that you're, you don't burn out while you're continuing to do such such hard work amidst heartache.
Dãnia Davy: That's such an important question because I quite honestly don't do the best job of a work-life balance.
I am a person who, this is my purpose and my meaning. So for me, what really inspires me every day is a story that one of the leaders at the Federation told me, and that was, back when we just acquired our 1300 acre piece of land in eps, Alabama, there were some senators in Alabama that challenged the Federation's nonprofit status.
They said that we were doing the political work in these local communities and we were violating our I R S status. And so all of the assets of the federation were frozen. All of the [00:24:00] foundations, the government, everyone cut ties with us. We weren't receiving any funding. And the staff at that time, instead of walking away from the Federation, they actually moved to the Federation's Rural Training and Research Center and lived there.
And if you've never been there it's, it's very rustic. Like the dorms were like built by members in like what they imagined to be like army barracks. Style cuz it was supposed to house a lot of people. But there were real folks with their families so committed to this work that they were living on this land together.
And the thing that really stands out to me about that story was that there was a family that was. An interracial couple and me being biracial, I think this really, really resonated with me that they were one of the first legal interracial marriages in [00:25:00] the state of Louisiana, and that couple were vulnerable to racist threats.
Throughout that entire time that they were living there. And so they walked their children to school together to make sure that their children were safe. And any time that I feel like my work feels challenging or the work feels daunting, I just think about how much strength, courage, and perseverance these families have, and that always.
You know, lifts my spirits and makes me realize that I'm a part of something bigger. I'm a part of this rich storied history. I'm not working alone. I'm not the first person to, to come up with any of these ideas, but I'm really a part of a legacy, and that is what helps me to be happy and have a smile on my face every day.
Alita Kelly: Beautiful. Thank you so much for. [00:26:00] For sharing your purpose and your passion, they're both evident in your voice. We're just so grateful, so thank you for sharing your heart with us today.
Dãnia Davy: Thanks so much for letting me chat with you. Our organizations get to support each other and amplify each other's priorities. That to me, is a story that I think needs to be uplifted when folks think about organizations working in silos. I think the fact that organizations like ours have the deep partnership and relationship that we do. That's what it's all about, and I'm really excited for the opportunity for us to continue to grow that relationship. So, thank you.
Alita Kelly: And we're honored to stand in solidarity with you doing this work.
Jessica Manly: Before we get into my conversation with Holly, I wanna share two important updates. First, the National Young Farmers Coalition helped to introduce a marker bill in the house. The bipartisan Increasing Land Access Security and Opportunities Act, or what [00:27:00] we're calling the Lasso Act, an innovative bill that we hope will secure powerful solutions to the land access crisis facing the new generation of young and BIPOC farmers.
The proposed a hundred million dollars of annual funding over the next 10 years will compliment the USDA's existing farm production and conservation programs and be available to a wide variety of entities such as tribes, municipalities, nonprofits, and cooperatives. Funded projects will provide direct access to funding for producers and will serve the needs of farmers and ranchers who have been most marginalized from accessing federal resources in the past.
Visit our One Million Acres for the Future website at youngfarmers.org/land, and you can click the pink take action button at the top of the page to tell your members of Congress to support this important bill and make sure that this funding becomes permanent. And on June 22nd, the U S D A announced the recipients of the first increasing land capital and market access program.
The 300 million in funding will support 50 projects [00:28:00] across the country that are working on improving access to land capital and markets for historically underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest owners. We'll include a link so you can read about some of those amazing projects in the show notes.
Longtime listeners of the Young Farmers Podcast will already know you because I think you've been on three times.
Holly Rippon-Butler: That sounds right. Yeah.
Jessica Manly: But tell us for new listeners who you are, what your role is.
Holly Rippon-Butler: Sure. Yeah. Hi everyone. Hi. I'm Holly Ripon Butler. I am the land Policy Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition, and I have been with the coalition since 2014 working on land access issues.
And the, the role has really evolved to meet the needs and the opportunities of how we can [00:29:00] advocate at the federal level for a more equitable distribution of federal dollars and more equitable federal policies related to land.
Jessica Manly: Why are we talking about land access challenges?
Holly Rippon-Butler: Well, land access is consistently the number one challenge that young farmers tell us about, both in our national survey and also just anecdotally, you know, it's that.
It's the challenge that is most often cited as the reason that farmers are struggling to enter agriculture, the reason that it's difficult to remain in farming and, and the top reason that young farmers are leaving agriculture. So, you know, we knew that this was a structural issue. This was the direct result of, of public policy, and this was an issue that we wanted to take action at the federal level, and that's where the One Million Acres for the Future campaign really came from, and [00:30:00] we launched the campaign in the fall of 2021 with support from our partners at Chipotle. And
Jessica Manly: I can't believe it's been, it's been so long.
Holly Rippon-Butler: It's so long. Yeah. Yeah, and you know, we knew from the onset that this was a campaign about. The next farm bill, we wanted to see Congress make a historic investment in equitable access to land in this, this next farm bill, which is up for debate this year.
And so the campaign has, you know, a couple different parts, but the key part is this land advocacy fellowship with a hundred young majority BIPOC farmers. Around the country who have been telling their stories, building community, coming to DC to talk directly to their members of Congress, hosting in districts, meeting with their members where they live and farm and writing op-eds and telling their, just telling their stories, and really raising the profile of this issue on a national level.
We have also been working really hard with our partners to develop [00:31:00] policy and are working to see that. Policy recommendations included in the 2023 Farm Bill. Really just trying to make sure that this farm bill is a farm bill that deals with this land access crisis and this issue, and we know we can't afford to wait for another, another five years.
Jessica Manly: It was pretty amazing to see. I mean, over a hundred farmers having 159 meetings with, with their members of Congress. And, and then, you know, now to be at a point where you and the rest of the policy team are like continuing the work of talking with members of Congress about, about the needs that these farmers are facing and the policy solutions that they really want to see and need to see in the next farm bill. Like what is happening now? I know that the, the farm bill is, you know, it's, being debated and we're at a point where we're getting ready to introduce marker bills or legislation that we're hoping will [00:32:00] get included in the farm bill. But can you talk a little bit about where we're at now in the farm bill process as far as furthering our land policy goals?
Holly Rippon-Butler: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I think really wanna stress just how valuable it was having. Over a hundred young farmers on the hill talking directly to their members. That was really a catalytic moment in this campaign and in this conversation, because when members of Congress hear directly from their constituents in that way, they pay attention.
They listen, and our role has been to follow up and keep the pressure on since that moment and. We have been so busy talking to offices in both the, the House and the Senate, and really, it, it looks just like a lot of conversations. It's a lot like dating in a way. You go, you talk to the offices, you kind of feel out, are you interested? Am I interested in you? Do [00:33:00] we feel that you are the most strategic office to help us get attention for this policy. Will you uphold and align with our values in helping us write this legislation? But it's a really, it's a, it's a mutual relationship where we really need these offices because they're the ones who have the power to introduce this text in the farm bill.
But they need us to tell them what it should, what these bills should say and what. Stakeholders and their constituents really want. It's a give and take and it's a lot of understanding what parts of the bills and our priorities we're not going to compromise on what parts we're willing to, to be strategic about and make adjustments to, to get the most congressional support that we can.
So that's what we've been working on. And like you said, we have a number of bills that we're trying to, you know, lead and see introduced and a number of bills that our partners are working on that we're supporting. And it's just a lot of [00:34:00] reading legislative text right now. Trying to discern what it all means, making sure we support it or what changes we would like to see included and hopefully.
Getting ready to see these bills become public and have a real moment of grassroots advocacy where we are going to need all hands on deck to spread the word. Encourage members to sign on and support this legislation and see it actually get included in the farm bill.
Jessica Manly: So that's the next action step is when these marker bills that we've been working on get introduced either in the house or in senate side that's when we mobilize.
Holly Rippon-Butler: Yeah, exactly. The more members that we have signed on in support of a bill. The more likely it is to be included. But yeah, we are gonna need, we're gonna have a huge push to get as many members in support of our priorities as possible. So we'll be focusing on making sure it's as clear as possible, the action opportunities are really, [00:35:00] really easy and impactful.
Jessica Manly: Yeah, that's, that's our goal with, with our, our campaigns, is that it takes you two minutes or less to actually push the button and, and contact your members of Congress. So, And something else Holly, I really wanted to ask you about last August, the increasing land capital and market access program was this really monumental moment for our land policy campaign.
And I was wondering if you could tell folks who might have missed it just a little bit about what that program was and why it was so important and kind of how that integrates with our, our marker bills and our goals for the farm bill.
Holly Rippon-Butler: Yeah. So this program, the Land Capital Market Access Program, was announced by U S D A by the Farm Service Agency in August, 2022.
And basically, I. We know that the number one issue is land access, and yet there was, there's never been a specific initiative focused on this [00:36:00] issue. So the program, the idea that what we had been asking for and pushing for was really to just see this flexible funding that would support community led land access initiatives.
And that's what we saw in the Increasing Land Capital and market access program. And you know, another factor of this program that was so So neat to see was that it really combined market and capital access as well. It understood that these are interrelated challenges that, you know, farmers don't just need land access.
They need to be able to thrive and access markets and succeed once they're on the land and they need capital in order to, to access land and to build their businesses. And so, Yeah, this program was announced. The application window was incredibly short. We mobilized very rapidly with the support of funder 11th hour project.
And this was something, you know, we were able to hire a [00:37:00] team of grant writers conduct surveys, kind of. Put the word out about this program and organize a really targeted response to help BIPOC led organizations submit applications. And, you know, we were successful in helping 19 organizations request over 130 million in funding.
We're still waiting awards announced, but really are hopeful that that will will happen soon. And this is. Directly influencing what we're asking for in the farm bills. So this program was a really strong example of what we wanna see. There were a lot of challenges and issues that people faced in applying and having the program really meet their needs.
So we conducted listening sessions with farmers and stakeholder organizations and partners and that directly informed how we're advocating for this program to be included in the Farm Bill and what changes we wanna see. [00:38:00] And I'll just, yeah, shout out the, the organizing work that was a result of really building a strong network and we were able to get the application period, the deadline extended by a few weeks which was the result of 99 organizations signing on asking U S D A to extend the deadline.
And seeing that happen was just a small organizing win in this long, long journey and long battle for more equitable opportunities and funding support from U S D A.
Jessica Manly: I'm wondering, you know, I think sometimes for folks who are non-farmers, and even for when we're talking to, to policymakers, there isn't always really an understanding of like, Why we should all care so much about equitable land access. And I'm wondering like what you say to, to folks who maybe don't understand why they should get involved in in land advocacy. Like why, why is this issue so important? [00:39:00]
Holly Rippon-Butler: I think it's about saying what kind of society do we wanna live in? Do we wanna live in a place where there's opportunity to. Build climate resilience to feed your community, to have good access to healthy food sovereignty and to have strong local supply chains of food and you know, is if that's what we want, then what we need to do is pay attention to equitable access to land.
We need to make sure that this is an opportunity that is equitable and that is acknowledging the, you know, the young BIPOC farmers that have the solutions and who have been denied access to land historically, and that we're, we're making sure that we, we change that picture because I think that's What is going to help us build this kind of [00:40:00] society that I certainly wanna live in, and I hope you know others do as well.
Jessica Manly: Is there anything that I didn't ask you about Holly, related to our land campaign or the farm bill that you wanna share?
Holly Rippon-Butler: I think that, you know, just wanna say how much of an ecosystem this is of really getting policy change across the finish line in dc you know, we're working with a large number of partners in kind of in constant communication because there's not just one solution to the challenge of land access in particular, but the challenge is, It's, it's going to take many different approaches to really create lasting change and to really move the needle on, on this issue and this challenge.
Jessica Manly: A big thank you to Holly and Dania for [00:41:00] sharing about your work on our show today and to a Alita for co-hosting with me. The Young Farmers Podcast is a project of the National Young Farmers Coalition and is produced by me and my co-pilot, Evan Flom, and it's edited by the amazing Hannah Beal, gratitude to Chipotle and 11th Hour for sponsoring our land campaign and to the our many partner organizations for furthering this important work with us.
Make sure to rate, review, and subscribe wherever you stream your shows, and maybe share it with someone you think would like to join the Young Farmers Movement. You can follow us on Instagram at Young Farmers Podcast and become a member of the National Young Farmers Coalition today for only $1 a year at youngfarmers.org/join.
We'll be back soon with some on the ground stories of climate challenges and building resilience from our friends at La Semilla thanks for listening.