Applegate Farms donates $50K to support American Farmland Trust’s Brighter Future Fund

Bedminster-based Applegate Farms, an all-natural and organic meat brand, on Monday announced a new partnership with American Farmland Trust, making a $50,000 donation to the AFT’s Brighter Future Fund, a program that helps farmers and ranchers nationwide improve their viability, access, transfer or permanently protect farmland, and adopt regenerative agricultural practices.

Applegate’s donation will fund grants, valued up to $5,000, for livestock farmers or ranchers who are working to who are becoming more resilient and viable.

“Young farmers and ranchers have a vision for a strong, sustainable and competitive food system. But making it a reality is anything but easy,” Joseph O’Connor, president of Applegate, said. “American Farmland Trust has a proven track record of advocacy and support to an incredible network of farmers. With our commitment to the Brighter Future Fund, Applegate aims to help new farmers build a more sustainable and secure foothold in the industry that allows them to fulfill their dreams and, in turn, helps us to make good on our mission: Changing the Meat We Eat.”

The Brighter Future Fund was launched in 2020 to help historically underserved farmers and ranchers build, grow and sustain their operations despite forces impacting the food and agricultural system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, changing markets, severe weather and climate change.

The impacts of the Brighter Future Fund grants ripple beyond individual awardees. Grants help drive new solutions for resolving key challenges facing our society, by:

  • Scaling up the adoption of regenerative practices and increasing the resilience of farms and ranches to climate change;
  • Strengthening local food systems to be more resilient to disruptions caused by global events as well as providing equitable access to healthy food;
  • Creating greater equity in opportunities for historically underserved farmers and ranchers;
  • Ensuring the availability of sufficient clean water and habitat for threatened wildlife;
  • Improving long-term farm viability and community vitality.

“Oftentimes, straightforward projects, like expanding or replacing fencing infrastructure, can make a huge difference for farmers or ranchers. Increasing rotational grazing capacity enhances pasture soil health, and ultimately improves the overall viability of a farm or ranch,” Ashley Brucker, deputy director of agriculture conservation innovation at American Farmland Trust, said. “We’re grateful for partners like Applegate for supporting and believing in the countless farmers and ranchers who do this vital work.”

“As a former farmer who has raised pastured livestock, I know firsthand how beneficial unrestricted grant funds are to a farm business,” Carolyn Gahn, Applegate’s senior director of mission and advocacy, said. “Fencing, watering systems and animal shelters are all costly but necessary requirements to get an operation off the ground and keep it functioning sustainably. A move towards a regenerative future, means making farming a viable business model for family farms and first-generation farmers.”

Additional supporters of the 2024 fund include: Tractor Supply Co. Foundation, iHeartMedia, Butcher Box, Giant Foods and Domino’s Pizza.