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

 

Crop Insurance: How does the money flow?

Crop Insurance and the need for reform is a topic we have grappled with for roughly the last decade. That was when we started hearing from farmers across the Great Plains and Midwest about the negative impacts of federally subsidized crop insurance. 

Revised Clean Water Rule Is Refined and Improved

On May 27, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources from pollution and degradation.
 
Water is life… for people, crops, livestock, and wildlife as well as farms, ranches, business and industry. The proposed Clean Water Rule is a crucial step in clearing the regulatory waters and protecting the quality of America’s surface waters, our most vital natural resource.
 

Unfair Treatment of Contract Chicken Farmers Ruffles John Oliver's Feathers

John Oliver reports what we already knew: Americans love the taste of chicken. The current deman requires 169 million chicks a week, which Oliver calls, "Warren Beatty numbers." Four big poultry companies use a system of contract farmers to meet this demand.  In spite of this HUGE demand, Oliver reports, a shockingly large number of these contract chicken farmers live at or below the poverty line.