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

 

Organic agriculture: consumer demand and economic opportunity

Organic farming is an important sector of our nation's agricultural economy. Organic agriculture is a viable model for economic growth and stability for many farmers. In some cases, the extra income from producing and selling organic products can allow family farmers to stay on their land.

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Conservation Stewardship Program in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota

Working lands conservation programs, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, provide the necessary tools for farmers and producers to maintain agricultural production on their land, simultaneously addressing resource concerns within their operations. Funding and strengthening working lands conservation programs ensure farmers and producers are supported and rewarded for their environmental stewardship.

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Farm bill fails to pass House; rural America wins, for now

Today, the House of Representatives failed to pass H.R. 2, its draft of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, commonly known as the farm bill. Representatives voted 198 in favor and 213 against.

This is a win for rural America, as the bill’s proposals were a giant step in the wrong direction.

The draft included eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program and cut funds for working lands conservation by nearly $5 billion over 10 years.