OMAHA (DTN) -- During an increasingly difficult time for young farmers to buy farmland, Kellogg Company and Michigan-based retailer Meijer have partnered with the National Young Farmers Coalition to support young Midwest farmers' growth in advocacy and leadership.
The National Young Farmers Coalition, also known as Young Farmers, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to shifting power and changing policy to equitably provide resources to the next generation of working farmers, particularly farmers of color, by uplifting their stories and turning their needs into policy.
Funding from the two companies will cover honorariums for 12 young farmers from the Midwest, including five from Michigan, who participate in the two-year Young Farmers Land Advocacy Fellowship as part of the Young Farmers' One Million Acres for the Future Campaign that advocates for change in the 2023 Farm Bill, according to a joint news release from the companies.
Donated funds will pay for travel for the young farmers to participate in regional gatherings and advocate for themselves in Washington, D.C. The funds will also underwrite the creation of online and in-store consumer communications that share the partnership between Kellogg, Meijer and Young Farmers.
The fellowship participants are a group of 25 Midwestern farmers who meet once a month to stay connected, receive leadership and advocacy training, share resources and act as a unified voice when discussing issues with policymakers. Most of the selected fellowship participants are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers whose stories were the most impactful in the selection process.
"Land access is the No. 1 challenge for (young farmers)," said Payge Lindow, the Michigan organizer for Young Farmers, in a Q&A with Kellogg. "Access to credit has also historically been a major roadblock and a source of discrimination for young farmers of color. The average age of the farmer in the U.S. is hovering around 60 years of age, which means many of them are on a fast track to retirement. There's an urgent need for young farmers to ensure an intact food system for our future. For example, the national average of Black farmers is 2% and just 0.4% in Michigan."
Improving access to financing for young farmers of color is a problem that Young Farmers seeks to address through advocacy and working with USDA.
Since 2019, Kellogg Company and Meijer have collaborated to support Midwest farmers. This investment builds upon the collaboration to help shape the future of farming for generations to come, according to the release.
"We greatly appreciate the support from Kellogg and Meijer," Lindow said. "Uplifting farmer voices into policy advocacy while building a strong community of young farmers to support one another along the way is crucial as farming transitions into the hands of these young farmers."
Susan Payne can be reached at email@example.com
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