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

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Three projects supporting cooperative development in Minnesota received funds through the Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) Foundation’s “Cooperatives for Climate” grant program.

Now in its second year, the grant program is aimed at cooperatives that are organizing in response to climate-related challenges and opportunities.

“These projects showcase the many ways that farmers can respond to the need for climate solutions,” said MFU President Gary Wertish, who is also president of the MFU Foundation. “From livestock to specialty crops, our members are building cooperatives that will have a positive impact on farm families.”

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

  • Summer Kitchen Cooperative, based in North Branch, is a farmer-led marketing cooperative focused on building a local food economy and promoting climate-resilient farming practices. Summer Kitchen will use grant funds to build organizational capacity, including a comprehensive business plan, to better serve their membership and community.
  • East Central Livestock. A group of regenerative livestock farmers in east central Minnesota are working to address accessing reliable, year-round cold storage infrastructure. The grant will be used to fund a feasibility study to support the livestock farmers’ efforts in strengthening their local and regional food system.
  • Get Bentz and Salt of the North, owners of sustainable lamb and wool businesses based in Northfield, are seeking assistance to better understand the economic viability for low quality coarse wool. They intend to investigate how to use this product in agricultural applications through felted wool landscape fabric. Grant funds will be used for a market analysis, operational development of the wool landscape fabric and potential development of a wool cooperative in Minnesota.

“As we cope with climate change, we have to work together to find solutions. This grant opportunity further demonstrates Farmers Union’s commitment to cooperative education and business development,” said Kelsey Love Zaavedra, who is co-organizing the Summer Kitchen Cooperative. “As a young cooperative, these funds will help us increase our organizational capacity so we can better serve our farming community. Nobody understands the needs of emerging farmers better than emerging farmers and we are so happy to have resources to formally organize.”

The first round of grants were issued in spring 2023 and were awarded to Headwaters Beef Cooperative, Pine River; Farm and Forest Growers Cooperative, northeast Minnesota; 40 Acre Cooperative, Sandstone, and Perennial Promise Growers Cooperative, Madison.

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.

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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