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

 

Soil Health in Iowa

Iowa’s current and future agricultural productivity relies on healthy soils. Agricultural practices have already resulted in losses of one-half to one-third of our topsoil and soil carbon.

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Conservation Innovation Grants Beginning Farmer Case Study: Eric Thalken

Originally from Ogallala, Nebraska, Eric spent part of his childhood in The Cornhusker State, and part of it in The Keystone State—Pennsylvania. He grew up in a family with a conventional farm mindset. Upon returning to Nebraska, Eric studied agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then became a sales agronomist.

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Field needs to be leveled for family farmers

Sen. Grassley (IA) and Rep. Fortenberry (NE) are standing up for family farmers in very tough times. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced they plan to release regulations this year addressing payments to family farms. These payments offer essential support to family farmers, but current loopholes are exploited by the largest farms that sometimes receive hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in payments.