Despite the profound challenges that 2020 has brought, California FarmLink, and most importantly the farmers we serve, have demonstrated remarkable resilience. The pandemic and growing calls for racial justice have deeply impacted our work. We responded by growing new partnerships to serve farmers of color, deploying low-cost and forgivable loans, and creating new approaches to business education. All this work is rooted in our values: equitable access to opportunity, resilient working landscapes, fairness and accountability, and learning from diverse farmers and ranchers.
Access to Capital for Farmers and Ranchers 2011-2020
In Total Lending To Date
January – October 2020
Total Loan Portfolio
as of 10/31/20
Total volume of loans
Total number of loans
as of 10/31/20
Number of farmers receiving land loans
Median loan amount
Status as of 10/31/20
The pandemic generated unprecedented demand for FarmLink loans, as many farmers navigated an urgent need to re-align sales channels and maintain payrolls while, in some cases, sales began to plummet. As lockdowns began in March, our team sprang into action by first establishing a 0% emergency loan product and assessing how we could deliver the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program loans for small- and mid-scale farmers. Throughout the 2nd quarter, loan inquiries from farmers increased tenfold, and FarmLink’s loan team worked through an unprecedented volume of loans.
Total volume of COVID-19 relief loans
Total number of COVID-19 relief loans
as of 10/31/20
During 2020 California FarmLink continued to grow and hone its unique business education programs focused on resilience and succession. Early in the year, we launched another cohort of farmers participating in a five-week Business Resilience Intensive to help farmers and ranchers assess their business structures and establish solid bookkeeping practices. In 2021 we will expand the number of “resilerators,” the five-week learning experience, for farmers and ranchers across the state. We will build on our distance learning experience from 2020 to offer both group education and one-on-one follow-up with each participant who completes the group education process.
After in-depth planning led by staff learning from ag professionals and farmers, in 2021 FarmLink will launch its Wealth Building educational program. Designed specifically for immigrant farmers, and delivered in Spanish, the course will focus on cash flow planning, managing credit, and the balance sheet. The program aims to help farmers adopt a planning perspective focused on business equity and family wealth.
Hours of Technical Assistance
From its start in 1999, California FarmLink has been networking and catalyzing access to land for beginning, immigrant, and farmers of color. During 2020 our staff provided one-on-one technical assistance to help establish land leases, relying in part on our well-established lease template along with more than 70 specialized clauses ranging from soils management to on-farm direct marketing and everything in between. FarmLink continued to improve the features of our online Land Portal which enables farmers and landholders to connect, and farmers to meet other farmers seeking land, with potential for establishing partnerships and collaboration.
Land Portal Membership Status
California FarmLink’s online Land Portal enables farmer-landseekers and landholders to learn about and connect with each other.
Total Land Portal Members
(as of 10/31/20)
Status as land tenure agreements of 11/30/20
California FarmLink has long sought to improve how we support immigrant farmers and farmers of color. In 2020 the nation’s reckoning with violence and health disparities in communities of color impacted us deeply. As FarmLink’s executive director Reggie Knox wrote earlier this year, “We recognize the stark, painful realities that the pandemic is killing Black people at disproportionate rates across the country, and that unemployment and economic harm is disproportionately impacting communities of color. We recognize how much work needs to be done to create a society that is grounded in racial equity and social justice.”
One of the core organization-wide activities planned for 2021 is to activate our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Principles by creating a set of DEI Practices to guide every aspect of the organization’s growth and development, from program design to communications to governance. We plan to establish a farmer peer advisory group to advance farmers’ perspectives and their impacts on the ways the organization conducts its business. And FarmLink will continue to grow its program impact and focus on supporting next-generation farmers and farmers of color.
California FarmLink’s mission is to invest in the prosperity of farmers and ranchers through lending, education, and access to land.
We envision a healthy food system where farmers and ranchers have equitable opportunities to build wealth and conserve natural resources.