Tillamook County Creamery Association said it's giving $1.6 million to the American Farmland Trust (AFT), a national not-for-profit organization that works to protect farmland and keep farmers on their land.
"At Tillamook, we are grateful to be able to make this contribution to American Farmland Trust to fight for the future of farming in America and to help farmers in need," Tillamook County Creamery Association President and CEO Patrick Criteser said in a statement. "We are also humbled by the tremendous support of loyal Tillamook fans across the country whose product purchases allow us to give back in this way."
In September, Tillamook announced that it would contribute 10% of Tillamook product sales during the month to help financially struggling farmers as part of its "All For Farmers" initiative.
AFT said it will use the Tillamook donation to provide grants directly to farmers to help them access farmland, enhance farm viability, and/or adopt new farming practices. AFT Vice President of programs Beth C. Sauerhaft said in a statement that it was the largest gift in 40 years to the group.
“With deep roots in agriculture, Tillamook understands the ups-and-downs of farming and knows that lending a helping hand to get through the hard times is part of what makes America’s collective farming community so special," Sauerhaft said.
The co-op said that since all types of farmers and farms are needed to provide a "robust and sustainable" food supply, the grants are available to farmers representing diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, geography, and farm size and type.
Any farmer in financial need is encouraged to apply for grant funding through the American Farmland Trust applications that opened on Monday.
In addition to providing the direct-to-farmer grants, AFT will also apply a portion of the Tillamook contribution to help preserve land on at-risk farms.
In addition to the donation to support farmers, Tillamook said it is also committing $100,000 to help restaurant chefs whose businesses have been financially hard hit during the pandemic. The funds will be used in a variety of ways, including providing staff support, securing personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety materials, and assisting in the chef’s own local give-back efforts.
“Being a farmer-owned and farmer-led co-op gives Tillamook a resilient edge,” Criteser said Monday. “Our co-op is holding up well, and we are grateful to be able to help others, like farmers and chefs, in their time of need.”