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

 

Growing taxes on Nebraska farms

The need for property tax relief in Nebraska has been well documented. In 2017, a coordinated effort to bring income tax reductions back into the Nebraska tax policy conversation gained steam. Also in consideration is a projected budget shortfall of nearly $900 million. 

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Pathways to Land Access

“Pathways to Land Access,” a report by Anna Johnson with support from Glen Ready, is a study of the Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentives Program (CRP-TIP), a program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA).

In “Pathways to Land Access,” Johnson and Ready investigate implementation of CRP-TIP in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The program was created by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, also known as the 2008 Farm Bill.

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Ruth helps neighbors by serving on the FSA Committee

About six years ago, Nebraska farmers Ruth Ready and her husband Sid stopped into their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to ask about loan programs and opportunities.

While there, Ruth was presented with an altogether different opportunity.

“They were looking for someone from my area to run for the FSA committee,” she said. “I did, was elected, and started on the board the following January.”

Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentive Program recommendations

We investigated statewide usages and participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program – Transition Incentive Program (CRP-TIP in South Dakota and surrounding states, and submitted the following recommendations to the USDA to make regarding program delivery. (Check out our report, "Pathways to Land Access.")