Tillamook County Creamery Association has donated $1.6 million to American Farmland Trust to permanently protect farmland and provide direct support to farmers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, changing markets, severe weather and climate change and other forces impacting the food and agriculture systems.
“Partnerships drive change with like-minded organizations and individuals coming together with a common purpose," said Beth Sauerhaft, AFT vice president of programs. "In Tillamook, we’ve found a partner that shares our values for respecting the hard work of farming, investing in the future of farmers, and protecting irreplaceable farmland.”
AFT will use funding from Tillamook to help permanently protect a projected 6,000 acres of productive farmland in threatened regions of the country. Additionally, Tillamook’s gift will fuel the launch of AFT’s Brighter Future Micro-Grants Program that will provide grants of up to $5,000 to farmers near 16 cities across the nation. Application details can be found on AFT’s website.
“The U.S. is facing the alarming loss of farmland," Sauerhaft said. "An average 2,000 acres of rich farmland is being lost each day to commercial development, climate change is impacting growing conditions imperiling production in our most important farming regions and 371 million acres of land will be in a state of flux in the net 15 years as senior farmers retire and the next generation faces the challenges of land access.”
On Sept. 1, Tillamook County Creamery Association committed to raise up to $1.6 million through reserving 10% of sales on Tillamook products for AFT. Nationwide media coverage supported by award-winning actor, producer, director and activist, Eva Longoria brought star power and passion for American agriculture and the farmworker community to the Tillamook 'All For Farmers' effort, enabling TCCA to deliver fully on its commitment.
In TCCA’s September press release Patrick Criteser, TCCA president and CEO, said "The unpredictability of the pandemic and the complexities of the supply chain are squeezing the economics for many producers and putting many multi-generational farms at risk. This year's unique challenges have accelerated and intensified the hardships that many farmers across the country were already facing.”
Being a farmer-owned and farmer-led co-op gives TCCA a resilient edge. TCCA farmer-owners direct the entire production chain and are accountable to consumers. In other words, the business model brings farmers and people closer together.
"Our business model enables responsible growth, sustains the farming way of life for our owners, and allows us to give back with initiatives like All For Farmers," said Crieser.