The Farming the Future Fund is responding to the Coronavirus with an Emergency Response Fund for food and farming. We are asking for proposals that will immediately respond to the current crisis whilst looking at the long term in order to instill resilience against future shocks, and fortify the movement.
The crisis has exposed the fragility of our food system showing our supply chains on the point of breaking. This affects us all. But importantly, this critically affects the vulnerable, those already marginalised, and those experiencing household food insecurity.
The Government’s response has been to turn to the supermarkets for help. Ours is to turn to those who have proven themselves as being the real key workers to society. With the assistance of third sector organisations we intend that our grants go directly to where the change is needed.
How to respond to Coronavirus?
Our emergency response is to embody the values of the Farming the Future grant-making programme. We respond to the challenges of our time, we instil resilience, and we fortify the Movement.
We asked our network to submit proposals that worked with the following four critical areas:
Loss of Workforce:
Every farming organisation is shouting from the hilltop that there’s no one to work the land. Our routine seasonal workforce can no longer migrate from Europe and no one else appears to be willing to fill the void. Can our communities step up in a time of crisis?
Supply Chain Reorientation
The industry has shifted literally overnight. Businesses and restaurants are closed. Farmers have lost regular routes to the market. People are at home and they are actively seeking direct sales. All of this is proving that independent producers and retailers have a vital role to play in a resilient food system. Once the dust has settled, how can we encourage customers to maintain their new relationships with small independent food suppliers?
Supporting the Planting Season and Filling Supply Gaps
Farmers have one shot a year to get their growing season right. For many now is the time for seeds to go in the ground for this year’s harvest, yet farmers are being greatly preoccupied with fulfilling endless orders. It is predicted that there will be a limited selection of foodstuffs over the next year as farmers can no longer plant complicated systems. Additionally, we can expect challenges with fruit and vegetable supplies from global imports if other countries put their own food security first. How can local food production not only plug these gaps but also become part of a wider solution?
Access to Food
Food banks and other food aid providers have been overwhelmed and unable to meet the increasing demand. We have an emergency on our hands in caring for the medically vulnerable, those already experiencing household food insecurity, and the millions of people who have lost their incomes and find themselves without the means to afford food. The circumstance has not only created the largest care home ever seen, as our vulnerable stay at home, but it is a social crisis impacting marginalised groups considerably exposing the inequalities in our society. Food aid providers are struggling to access food from the supply chain. The army has already been deployed to deliver emergency parcels but these have barely the minimum nutritional value - at a time where our bodies need to be physically able to defend themselves. Can we transform society’s empathy into a situation where healthy and nutritious food is a fundamental right for all?
Announcement of Successful Grants
"The funding from Farming the Future has enabled us to influence the Agriculture Bill so that the second version of the Bill included a reference to supporting farmers to learn about agroecology. This is a great leap forward and something we can build upon in year 2 to make bold strides towards a transformation of our agricultural system. The lobbying work that the fund has enabled us to do with Defra has empowered us to push for programmes for new entrant farmers, productivity schemes for agroecological farms, farmer to farmer training and more R&D for ecological, climate-friendly farming. These ideas are gaining traction in the department. In fact, we now are embarking upon a 2-year trial of a horticulture scheme, for Defra, designed to reward our fruit and vegetable growers for delivering social and environmental benefits to society. This is ground-breaking because the old subsidy system barely recognised horticulture at all!”