Funding Higher-Welfare Farming

COVID-19 Resources for Farmers

As people around the world react and adapt to the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic, farmers—especially those using higher welfare practices—are being hard hit by changing supply chains and lost markets. We are working with the USDA to ensure that welfare-certified and other welfare-conscious farmers have access to funds allocated to support agriculture through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and below we’ve identified some existing emergency funding and resources available to those farmers who may be struggling. We’ll be updating this list as new resources are made available as part of our work to build and support a more humane food system. If you know of a funding resource missing from this list or want to reach out to our farm animal welfare team, contact [email protected].

Emergency Funding

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $10,000 to help small businesses overcome temporary losses of revenue experienced as a result of COVID-19. Loans are available to agricultural operations with less than 500 employees and do not need to be repaid.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program provides loans to help small businesses (for most livestock and poultry producers, that means those with annual receipts less than $1 million) keep their workers on the payroll. The SBA will forgive loans provided under the Paycheck Protection Program if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to “producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs.” The program is available to livestock and dairy producers, but not poultry producers, and provides payments of up to $250,000 for individuals and up to $750,000 for corporate entities.

The Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) launched an emergency mini-grants program to support livestock and poultry farmers, offering grants up to $500 for those who are experiencing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Farmland Trust launched its Farmer Relief Fund, awarding eligible farmers grants of up to $1,000. Currently, eligible farmers include “any small and mid-size direct-market producers” with “annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markers and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores or makers who use farm products as inputs.”

The New England Grassroots Environmental Fund is offering rapid turnaround grants of up to $1,000 for COVID-19 community relief work. Grants are available for community-driven efforts (volunteer-driven, guidelines of budget <$100,000 and no more than two full-time staff equivalents)

Facebook announced a Small Business Grants Program that will be offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. Currently, eligible businesses must be located in or near where Facebook operates. Applications will open in the coming weeks and interested businesses can sign up for updates here.

Farm Aid launched a national COVID-19 Farmer Resilience Initiative, committing $400,000 to be disbursed by local, state and regional groups across the country. $100,000 has been allocated for each U.S. region and emergency funds of $500 will be distributed to “provide immediate relief and foster resilience.” 

  • Farmers in the Great Lakes Region (IL, IN, OH, WI, MI) can apply for funding here
  • Farmers in Kansas and Missouri can apply for funding here.
  • Farmers in Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and the US Virgin Islands can apply for funding here.

Georgia: Georgia Organics is expanding its Farmer Fund to provide COVID-19 emergency relief grants up to $2,000 to Georgia Organic Farmer Members.

North Carolina: The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) has launched emergency relief grants up to $500 for North Carolina farmers who have seen drastic impacts to their business and household as a result of COVID-19. Funds are meant to lessen the “immediate financial needs of farmers and their households,” including expenses like food, medical bills and utility bills. They are not meant to cover farm production expenses.

Vermont: NOFA-VT is offering payment to experienced milkers to help step in when farmers get sick. This relief is available to all dairy farmers and farm workers. Email [email protected] to learn more.

Washington: Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets’ Good Farmer Fundassists farms in crisis, helping to mitigate financial fallout caused by emergencies like COVID-19. The fund is only available to farms in the Seattle Farmers Market system.

Other Resources

Farm Aid has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources and information for farmers here.

National Young Farmers Coalition has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources and information for farmers here.

GrowNYC has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources and information for farmers here.


A key principle of the ASPCA’s work to improve the lives of farm animals is a commitment to help farmers obtain technical and financial resources to improve their animals’ welfare. Agricultural subsidies and grant programs are largely set up to support conventional farming practices, leaving the more humane and responsible farmers at a severe disadvantage in the marketplace.

The ASPCA works with the Food Animal Concerns Trust’s (FACT) Fund-a-Farmer project to underwrite Animal Welfare Certification and Capacity Building Grants, which help farmers adopt meaningful welfare certifications and expand their welfare-certified businesses to ensure better lives for their animals and more transparent, humane options in the marketplace.

Hear directly from farmers why animal welfare certification is important to them:

Animal Welfare Certification Grants make it possible for farmers to attain animal welfare certification from Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, or Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Steps 4 and higher. The grants are awarded on an annual basis, and farmers can apply for grants of up to $2,500 to make on-farm improvements needed to achieve certification.

Capacity Building Grants enable existing welfare-certified farms to expand their capacity and reach new markets. Farmers who already have achieved Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane,or GAP certification are eligible for grant funding. The grants are awarded on an annual basis, and individual farmers can receive grants of up to $2,500, while group projects from multiple farmers can receive grants of up to $5,000.

The request for proposals for both grants generally opens in early fall and grant winners are announced mid-winter.

Farmers interested in applying for a Fund-a-Farmer grant from FACT should visit the website at foodanimalconcernstrust.org/farmer.

To see past grant projects awarded to farmers, visit foodanimalconcernstrust.org/past-grants.

For more information about these three welfare certifications and what is required to apply, visit aspca.org/farmcertification.

Funding oppurtunitiesIn addition to the ASPCA’s partnership with FACT, we’ve worked to identify existing grant programs across the country that provide funding opportunities for more humane farming systems. To find out if there is any private, federal or state funding for which your farm or business may be eligible, consult our breakdown of existing funding opportunities, pulled from our larger Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide.