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.

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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.

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Untapped economic opportunity in organic farming

Organic farming in Iowa is on the rise, and proving to be an important economic opportunity for small to mid-size farmers. This growing industry is significant for our state because it gives farmers an important and often untapped avenue to continue farming and make money. In a tough farm economy, strong and viable economic opportunities such as this are a valuable option for farms.

Congress: Rural Development deserves a seat at the table

The Center for Rural Affairs was among several national organizations urging Congress to include a directive in appropriation legislation for Fiscal Year 2018. Section 755 of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to nominate an individual to fill the role of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development.

In May, U.S. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced a reorganization eliminating the Undersecretary for Rural Development.