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

 

A farmer's view: a look at the Conservation Stewardship Program

This report examines the efficacy of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. These states were selected based on their high rates of CSP contracts and acres enrolled in the program, as well as their role as agriculture-centric states. Through surveying participants in these regions, we acquired valuable data from farmers and ranchers regarding their enrollment and satisfaction with the program.

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Are property taxes on the ballot?

Up and down the campaign trail and all across Nebraska, candidates are quick to tell you that property tax is their number one priority. It’s true for incumbents and newcomers alike. Nearly every rural or statewide contender is ensuring voters that property tax is the primary focus.

These candidates show empathy when saying times are tough. They are quick to display confidence when telling us they “know how to fix it.” Some use flashy graphs, glossy charts, and selective statistics to show they are serious.

Kansans talk farm bill in Washington

Since June, I have had the honor of helping the Center for Rural Affairs educate and interact with members of Congress and farmers from Kansas on the 2018 farm bill. Most of my work has consisted of phone calls and visits in and around Kansas. But, recently, I had the chance to head to the heart of the farm bill policy discussion, Washington, D.C., to visit with the Kansas delegation on Capitol Hill.