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Summer 2020 Newsletter

Note from Reggie Knox, Executive Director

Dear friends,

During 2019 the FarmLink board and staff explored how our values and vision could inform and update the organization’s mission. We sought a single verb that best describes how the organization generates impact across its programs. That verb is invest: we are investing in the prosperity of farmers and ranchers. Supporting sustainable, organic, and farmers of colors’ success demands investment of land, capital and knowledge.

Thinking about our work through the prism of “investing” has been useful as we confront the COVID-19 crisis and respond to the racial equity uprising, to fight systemic racism and discrimination, and to stand in solidarity with farmers and all other people of color who have been discriminated against. We hope that our increased investments in farmers’ access to land and capital will help us emerge from this pandemic and economic crisis with regional food systems that are stronger, more diverse, and more socially just than ever before.

Over the last four months our staff have been working to help small farm businesses address the disruption of sales to restaurants, food service, wholesale and farmers’ markets, and implementation of distancing and protective equipment among workers. We immediately set aside a pool of $1 million for emergency no-interest loans of up to $20,000 for farmers who had lost markets and we began reaching out to borrowers to assess impacts. We also provided 104 forgivable loans to small-scale organic, sustainable, and farmers of color through the Paycheck Protection Program (see article below).

We are exploring new ways to shape our lending to support the many small farmers currently in our portfolio throughout the deepening economic crisis. Our hope is to not only help farmers survive the crisis, but also, in partnership with our investors and funders, to increase our emphasis on patient capital for farmers, and building financial skills to support long term financial stability. 

Despite these difficult times, in many ways the wind is now with us – we were prepared for this moment. People are thinking more than ever about food, wealth, justice, race, and climate resilience. We are excited to work with farmers and partners to usher in a new era of agriculture, one that supports farmer prosperity, resilient communities and improves the climate and environment. With your support we will continue to lead the way on these issues as they finally become central to local, state and national conversations.

Warmly,
Reggie Knox, Executive Director

Investing in the prosperity of farmers and ranchers | 2019 Annual Report

We’re happy to share our 2019 Annual Report outlining how we invest in prosperity. Our work to support sustainable, organic, and farmers of colors’ success demands investment of land, capital and knowledge. Learn how our work took shape in 2019 and how it has been carried forward, with new knowledge and perspectives, to address the challenges we face today. We appreciate your support. Thank you.

New FarmLink program focuses on knowledge and practices for business resilience

California FarmLink has a new farmer/rancher professional development course called the Business Resilience Intensive. It covers a core curriculum including business structure, labor, accounting, taxation, cash flow and credit, insurance, environmental regulations, legal aspects of food safety, and overall business planning. The course begins with a self-assessment, and ends with each participant receiving one-on-one coaching…<read more>

Benefiting Farmers with more than $2.4 million from the Paycheck Protection Program

In response to the coronavirus, the first federal stimulus package was passed back in March. Soon afterward we began to decipher the implications of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small-scale organic, sustainable, and farmers of color in California. As an SBA lender, we were eligible to administer the forgivable PPP loans. For the last three months we’ve had all hands on deck. Our team put in long hours to learn the PPP system, develop loan policies, identify farmers in need and get PPP loans approved and documented. We’ve now provided 104 PPP loans totaling more than $2.4 million – 72 of those loans were to farmers of color. Through new partnerships in the Central Valley, more than 50 PPP loans went to Southeast Asian immigrant farmers, many in Fresno County. FarmLink’s number of COVID-related loans now exceeds the total number of loans we made in 2019.

Farm Finance Forum

California FarmLink helps sustainable and organic farmers to access capital and establish secure land tenure. The Farm Finance Forum is an opportunity to learn from other farmers’ experiences and compare ag business loans and other sources of financing your farm or ranch in COVID times.

Our keynote speaker will be Albert Straus, Founder and CEO, Straus Family Dairy. Albert will share his story about how financing helped achieve his business goals. The Farm Finance Forum is a valuable learning and networking opportunity for farmers and ranchers. It provides a rare opportunity to hear from a variety of ag lenders and explore financing options.

Workshop will include a lender and borrower panel discussing farming and financing in uncertain times.We aim to support business resilience with access to land, capital and education that supports local farms’ long-term success.

New tools to support the purchase of farm assets

We have recently completed a toolkit focused on asset purchase agreements. While the FarmLink team serves farmers everyday, we’re almost always working to develop new tools to invest in their prosperity. One way we are investing in the prosperity of farmers and ranchers is to help them acquire assets like business entities, land, or equipment. The toolkit includes vital documents that our team uses when working with farmers.

The Asset Purchase Agreement Toolkit was created in partnership with the Mills Legal Clinic at Stanford Law School, which has benefited our work for many years  by developing and updating our lease templates and library of lease clauses. They are all designed to support equitable agreements and good land tenure.

The new Toolkit will not be posted on our Resources page because there are too many moving parts and every situation calls for its own unique strategies. Current borrowers or farmers registered through our Land Portal are eligible to receive these services.

While you will always want to consult an attorney, we can help to put together a sale or purchase, and we can work with both parties to navigate the agreements. We are unable to help with business valuation, but we are working on an additional resource for self-guidance through that process. The new toolkit includes:

  • Bill of Sale and Assumption Agreement
  • Disclosure Schedule
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement
  • Menu of Alternative Terms (for Purchase Agreement)
  • Asset Purchase Agreement
  • Sale of Business Checklist

As a nonprofit lender, we can provide financing for the sale of a business and/or farm-related assets. We are especially excited because this is a comprehensive suite of resources that will help retiring farmers transition farm businesses to the next generation. Contact your regional coordinator for assistance.

Welcome to Remy Rodriguez

We are thrilled to share news that Remy Rodriguez has joined the FarmLink team as our new Communications Associate! In this new position, he is responsible for managing social media, coordinating project promotion, visual design, the website and more. Remy is committed to making a difference in his community of Watsonville with his continued work in video production and managing social media for @ExploreWatsonville

The California Farm Directory

Recently the Community Alliance with Family Farmers announced the creation of The California Farm Directory. It will be an online resource designed to help buyers and the general public conveniently find a farm and farm products anywhere in the state. The directory features, filters to search by crop, location, practice and more. Examples of how it will be used include a family looking to join a local CSA, a distributor seeking a particular product grown using specific practices, or organizations like CAFF working to support local agriculture. It goes live later this month, but you can list your farm today. Learn more at www.caff.org/addfarm

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