Illinois Farmers Resilience Fund

UPDATE: The Resilience Fund recipients have been announced! 

With financial support from the Chicago Region Food System Fund, the Alliance launched the new Resilience Fund to help Illinois farms invest in critical infrastructure to scale up and adapt their business models. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased demand for locally produced food in Illinois. With the right investment in on-farm infrastructure now, local food producers can leverage this moment to expand the supply and diversity of local food. 

Download a preview of the online application

The deadline to apply is July 28 at 5 PM CST. All applications will be reviewed after the application deadline by the Review Committee composed of agriculture and food specialists from across the state. If granted, funds will be disbursed by August 20, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact Ana at, 847-920-6062. 

Meet the Review Committee!

Dave Bishop, Owner of PrairiErth Farm
Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Retired Extension Specialist from University of Illinois Extension
Jon Cherniss, Owner of Blue Moon Farm
Casey Cora, Director of Frontera Farmer Foundation
Cassidy Dellorto-Blackwell, Farmer Training Program Manager at The Land Connection 
Rebecca Doyle, Co-Owner of Hickory Grove Pork Farms and Doyle Associates
Jackie De Batista, Executive Director of Angelic Organics Learning Center 
Zach Grant, Extension Educator at University of Illinois Extension
Jay McGhee, Board Member at Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Patty Ruback, Community Organizer/Founder of Eat Local DeKalb
Richard Ritter, Senior Vice President Agricultural Lending at Flanagan State Bank

How Much Money is Awarded?

The Resilience Fund will distribute $225,000 to distribute to grantees. Applicants may apply individually or in collaboration with other farmers and organizations.

Grant amounts are as follows: 

$5,000 (9 available) 

$10,000 (13 available) 

$20,000 (1 available)

Who can apply?

All working independent family farms in Illinois are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to farms in the Chicago foodshed (300-mile radius from Chicago), who serve local Illinois markets through CSAs, farmers’ markets, restaurants, groceries, co-ops, schools, or Illinois institutions. 

We encourage applications from operations that are owned, led, and/or founded by Latinx, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), women, beginning farmers, immigrants, persons who identify as LGBTQ+, veterans, and persons living with a disability. 

Applicants may apply individually or in collaboration with other farmers and organizations. Intermediaries, educational organizations, and other businesses who would like to apply must submit a project in collaboration with an agricultural producer. In such cases, applicants will be asked to detail their established relationship with the agricultural producer.  All projects must include an agricultural producer with at least two years of farming experience.

Priority will be given to farms that produce horticultural crops, tree crops, or animals raised to provide food and that integrate goals of environmental stewardship, economic profitability, and social and economic equity into their farming system. Applicants will be asked to detail their sustainable agricultural practices as well as the farm’s end-users. Extra consideration will be given to operations and projects located in and/or serving low-income communities. 

What Can the Funds be Used For?

Projects must be designed to improve the capacity and diversity of the local food supply and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Farm infrastructure or investments such as on-farm improvements to increase scale and/or efficiency of the operation, purchase of capital investments and refrigeration units, grain storage, online sales development;
  • Supply chain infrastructure or investments such as transporting products to market, coordinating pick-up, aggregation, and distribution of food items from multiple sources;
  • Institutional or wholesale investments such as increased production, product packaging, and value-added processing or administrative prerequisites.
  • Launch, expansion, or operational improvement of cooperative or multi-farm collaboration and other mutually-owned businesses 

This fund is not intended to be emergency relief aid or to support general operating expenses on the farm (e.g. recurring farm expenses, loan payments). See the Alliance’s list of emergency resources available for farmers in response to COVID19 and the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

We will consider awarding grants to partially fund larger projects/purchases (e.g. a down payment for a truck would be an eligible request). We do not require applicants to have matching funds but describing other financial support for their project may increase their score in our assessment of financial viability. 

We expect projects to be completed within 6 months of receiving the award. 

How will proposals be scored?

Reviewers will use this scoring sheet to award up to 100 points for applications in 10 categories.

How Do I Apply? 

Apply online only at:
Download a preview of the online application

Resilience Fund Press Release

Additional Farmer Grants

The Chicago Region Food System Fund is accepting applications from non-profit organizations responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on Chicago region communities and the local food economy. With an initial investment of $4.2M, the Fund focuses on hunger and business disruption in the local food system—from production to processing to distribution to consumption—in an area approximately 200 miles from Chicago. 
Apply by July 29, 2020 at

Advocates for Urban Agriculture’s Capacity-Building Grant program was designed by and for Chicagoland farmers. Grants will range from $2,500-$20,000 and will empower Chicagoland urban farm businesses to expand their ability to produce and distribute locally grown food through increased operational support and capital projects. More information about this grant will be released this summer.

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) Fund-a-Farmer Grants provides grants up to $2500 to qualifying farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. Applications will open in October 2020.