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MFU Foundation Awards $90K Through ‘Cooperatives for Climate’ Grant

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Four farmer-owned cooperatives in Minnesota received funds through the Minnesota Farmers Union Foundation’s “Cooperatives for Climate” pilot grant program.

The pilot grant program is aimed at cooperatives that are organizing in response to climate-related challenges and opportunities. It is supported with funds from the McKnight Foundation and Morgan Family Foundation,

“Cooperatives are a cornerstone of Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU),” said MFU President Gary Wertish, who is also president of the MFU Foundation. “Farmers Union members have built more cooperatives than any other organization in the nation. Early MFU members were cooperative leaders, joining together with their neighbors to form cooperatives to access inputs and market their products at a time when market access was often controlled by railroads. The Foundation’s investment in Cooperative for Climate grants is about farmers again leading the way and controlling how what they produce is priced and marketed.”

The first round of Cooperatives for Climate grants will go to four cooperatives and total $90,000:

Headwaters Beef Cooperative

Award amount: $25,000

Location: Pine River, Minn.

Description: The Headwaters Beef Cooperative will bring conservation to the marketplace, providing stable prices to farmers and ranchers, and a healthy affordable protein to consumers, while protecting water quality, improving wildlife habitat and addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Farm and Forest Growers Cooperative

Award amount: $15,000

Location: Northeast Minnesota

Description: A network of small farms and nurseries growing climate-adaptive tree seedlings, which are sold to reforestation agencies and individuals with the goal of creating resilient forest resources.

40 Acre Cooperative

Award amount: $20,000

Location: Sandstone, Minn.

Description: Focused on creating access and opportunities for historically marginalized farmers in Minnesota and the surrounding region and that builds climate resilience through operational support for specialty crops.

Perennial Promise Growers Cooperative

Award amount: $30,000

Location: Madison, Minn.

Description: Working to grow the market and impact of perennial crops, specifically Kernza®, by empowering more farmers to plant it, and ensuring a high-quality product for brands.

“These farmer cooperatives are finding ways to create resilience and build businesses that will benefit their communities for future generations,” said Ariel Kagan, MFU Director of Climate and Working Lands. “From new crops to grazing to forestry, there are clearly so many ways that farmers can address climate change.”

Grants will specifically support technical assistance and business development services. Selection criteria included climate impact, results, support for emerging farmers, work plan and budget. A committee of MFU members reviewed applications and made recommendations on funding.

Applications for a second round of funding will open in early 2024. More information can be found at https://mfu.org/mfu-foundation-com-climate-working-lands/.

About Minnesota Farmers Union

Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at mfu.org, and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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