Farm Policy

We work with family farmers and supporters like you who care about the structure of agriculture to reform farm policy. Our goal is to create farm policy that keeps families on the land, protects our soil and water for future generations and creates opportunity for a new generation of farmers.

Family farm agriculture plays a critical role in strengthening rural communities and shaping the character of rural life. Quite simply, who farms matters.

Research has found that communities surrounded by farms that are larger than can be operated by a family unit have a few wealthy elites, a majority of poor laborers, and virtually no middle class. The absence of a middle class has a serious negative effect on social and commercial service, public education, and local government.

We don’t have the option of returning to the family farm communities of a generation ago. But we can build strong 21st century rural communities based on their key strength. Family farming afforded people who work – the common person – the opportunity to shoulder the responsibilities of ownership and enjoy its benefits. That strengthened their stake in their community and nurtured their sense of responsibility.

Today, there are new opportunities in farming, ranching and related businesses. Small dairies are remaking themselves with speciaility cheeses and organic milk. In the Midwest, hundreds of small farms are flourishing by supplying the gourmet food supplier Niman Ranch with low-stress hogs raised on straw or pasture. On the Great Plains, family growers are cultivating specialty grains for expanding niche markets. 

We’re still fighting for family farms that raise commodities, as you can see in our advocacy for tighter limits on mega farm subsidies. But we are also working to create the new 21st century opportunities for rural Americans to own the fruits of their labor.

Farm Policy Notes

 

Farm bill priorities: conservation

Conservation programs guide farmers and ranchers in improving land soil and water quality.

Maintain the strength of our working lands conservation programs, Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Preserve funding and continue technical assistance support. With these programs, farmers and ranchers can steward their soil and water resources for the next generation without breaking the bank.

File attachments: 

Farm bill priorities: crop insurance

Crop insurance should better serve rural communities. 

Stop allowing taxpayer dollars to go without limit to the largest farmers.

Cap crop insurance subsidies at $50,000. Other public support programs have limits; it makes sense to have limits on crop insurance subsidies, too. Who does this impact? Only 0.9 percent of farmers in 2010 and 2.5 percent of farmers in 2011 received premium subsidies greater than $50,000 and would have been impacted by a cap.

Manage risk through conservation.

File attachments: 

Farm bill could help farmers, soil health, and water quality

Do you care about soil health, clean water, and farmers’ ability to make a living and steward their land? Time to tune in. Congress has started work on the next farm bill, and now is when they need to hear from you: the voters.

The next farm bill offers a major opportunity to support conservation through the crop insurance program. Crop insurance is a must-have for most farmers. Linking crop insurance to conservation is therefore a smart way for Congress to invest taxpayer dollars in supporting farmers and strengthening stewardship of natural resources.

Farm bill conversations: crop insurance

The Center for Rural Affairs farm bill team has been working hard to make sure you have up-to-date and important farm bill information. Over the past few weeks we have sent out information regarding our farm bill priorities. This week, we’re talking about crop insurance reform and how you can get involved by contacting your representatives.

Here are two things we’d like to see change with crop insurance through the 2018 farm bill:

Apply for value-added producer grants by January 2018, read about success stories

“Creating and marketing value-added products has the potential to significantly enhance our farm's profitability, but this is no easy task. Our value-added funds will help pay for processing, marketing, distribution, and sales of our pasture-raised chickens and eggs, as well as microgreens that we grow,” said Alex McKiernan, co-owner of Robinette Farms near Lincoln, Nebraska. The farm received a working capital grant in 2015.