Why are we offering a BIPOC Scholarship?
We firmly believe that we cannot achieve our mission to “empower agricultural communities to resolve their business law vulnerabilities, within an ecosystem of support” if we:
- Do not confront and push back against the historic harming of those who are and have always been part of the core work of agriculture in the United States; and
- Refuse to confront the racism, colonialism, ableism, and white supremacy that destabilize and disenfranchise agricultural communities nationwide.
As an organization dedicated to strengthening agricultural communities, we recognize that the modern US agriculture system is rooted in centuries of genocide, white supremacy, erasure, stolen land, and stolen labor. Racist policies including but not limited to: the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Redlining practices, the revocation of Special Field Order 15, Executive Order 9066, Sundown Towns, Chinese Exclusion Act, Tulsa Race Massacre, and USDA Pigford v. Glickman, have intentionally and systemically harmed, disappeared, murdered, and disenfranchised Black, Indigenous, Asian- American & Pacific Islanders, Hispanic, Latino and other farming communities of color. This has to stop.
Today, BIPOC communities experience higher levels of risk exposure and lower access to risk resolution as compared to non-BIPOC small business-owning peers. Just 58% of Black entrepreneurs sought out business services such as attorney support, compared to 70% of white business owners. Black entrepreneurs are also less likely to receive information, business support networks, despite eagerness to participate.* As an organization that helps farmers utilize business support services and provides supportive networks around farm law, these statistics are a directive to act.
Membership at Farm Commons will enable BIPOC producers to (a) identify their unique legal risks experienced in the course of operating their farm/ranch and (b) manage those risks within an ecosystem of support.
We recognize that many barriers stand in the way of beginning farmers from many backgrounds including poverty and a lack of education or support networks. We care deeply about these structural issues as well. At this time, our scholarship program is in respect of the incredibly long-standing and pervasive inequities facing BIPOC producers, particularly.
What is our BIPOC Scholarship?
We are committed to eliminating barriers to Farm Commons membership and services for BIPOC producers and BIPOC agricultural service providers by waiving 100% of membership fees for individuals for 1 year.
We recognize that while scholarships provide both access and an invitation, they are not a solution; engagement, accountability, and equitable power distribution are solutions. This invitation and access leads to a solution where: (1) BIPOC members are supported to engage in wisdom sharing and knowledge generation in the Commons Community where they can ask questions and provide feedback to their peers on legal issues, and (2) BIPOC members have the critical opportunity to learn how to spot legal risks on the farm and learn what steps to manage those risks through free enrollment in Farm Commons workshops.
We are eager to build on the membership year for further solutions including welcoming even more BIPOC producers into our Farmer Fellows program which offers a paid, supported platform to tell their own stories and present their own solutions. We value the opportunity to better understand whether and how our resources are meeting your needs so we can adapt them as necessary. We may at times create opportunities for you to provide feedback on your experience, with appropriate compensation. Your participation is helpful but never required.
We know that even as we strive to create efforts that provide access, even more work must be done. As an organization, engaging in community and strengthening our legal resilience capacity building is one of our core values, so as always, we invite your valuable feedback on our equity efforts – email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I participate in the BIPOC Scholarship program?
- Identify as Black, Indigenous, or other Person of Color (BIPOC), and have
- Worked on a farm for at least one year (full or part time) as an owner or a worker.
For Agricultural Service Providers:
- Currently work for an institution that primarily serves the BIPOC farming community.
Scholarships are available for Producer, Institutional- Individual and Institutional- Office membership plans. Institutional-Organization memberships are not eligible for a scholarship at this time.
To apply, fill out this form.
After filling out the application, you will receive the scholarship coupon code and instructions for its use. You will need to complete the application form and then come back to the Farm Commons website to create your membership account.