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

 

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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Whole Farm Revenue Protection

Whole Farm Revenue Protection is a new insurance product for diversified, specialty and organic producers as well as conventional producers. USDA’s Risk Management Agency manages this product. Farmers purchase it by working with their local crop insurance agents.

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Why does Nebraska’s current tax debate matter?

Nebraskans are left to sit upon an unbalanced three-legged tax stool.

The property tax leg is too long, representing more than 35 percent of the state’s tax revenues. The income tax leg of the stool is too short, reflecting 27 percent of state revenue. Sales tax accounts for 30 percent and the remaining 8 percent comes from other sources.

Proposals before the Legislature seek to shift this balance, but in a manner that could leave middle and low-income Nebraskans with access to fewer services while shouldering a greater percentage of the tax burden.

Report examines federal conservation program

The Center for Rural Affairs recently released “Pathways to Land Access,” a report by Anna Johnson with support from Glen Ready. The paper is a study of the Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentives Program (CRP-TIP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA). 

In “Pathways to Land Access,” the authors investigate implementation of CRP-TIP in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The program was created by the 2008 Farm Bill. 

Dear Iowa lawmakers: Leopold Center deserves recognition and respect

Dear Gov. Bransted, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, and Iowa lawmakers,

We, the undersigned, oppose any proposal to eliminate funding and authority for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. While the work of the Leopold Center is focused in Iowa, it has long been a leader in sustainable agriculture research and serves as an inspiration to sustainable agriculture work nationwide.