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 specialty 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

 

Corporate farming notes: pushing back on consolidation in the food system

Consolidation of companies in the food system has had negative impacts for rural communities. One detriment is lack of choice and higher prices for farmers when purchasing inputs, as fewer and fewer corporations control seed and chemical production.

While wounds from consolidation are deep, understanding how and why food system corporations build power is important to regaining ground for the health of rural communities.

Enroll in Conservation Reserve Programs by Aug. 23

Farmers and ranchers with expiring contracts with the Conservation Reserve Program, or who are interested in enrolling land in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) should take note of an upcoming deadline. The U.S. Department of Agriculture - Farm Service Agency has announced the deadline to enroll in either the Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentive Program (CRP-TIP) or CCRP is set for Aug. 23, 2019.

Your voice needed for fairness for poultry and livestock producers

Economic opportunity is vital to rural communities. Although poultry and livestock production is integral to rural economies, decades-long shifts in the poultry and livestock industry have pushed many producers out of the business and made it tough for those who remain. Packers and processors were once more willing to purchase animals that individual producers owned, bred, and raised themselves. Now, much of the industry prefers to purchase animals that producers raise under contract.