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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President's budget ignores needs of rural America

Details on President Trump’s 2020 budget were released this month. In an attempt to rein in federal spending, the budget recommends a $3.6 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, the proposals set forth in this budget seem far-removed from the realities rural Americans face every day.

Dear USDA: Here's our thoughts on farm bill implementation

The 2018 farm bill contains several important changes for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Risk Management Agency (RMA), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and we thank Secretary Bill Northey for providing this opportunity to provide public comment on these changes. The below represents comments on farm bill implementation from the Center for Rural Affairs, but we hope that these comments are the beginning of a conversation with USDA about the 2018 farm bill rather than the end.

Can’t make the hearing in Lincoln? 6 steps for weighing in on legislation

Nebraska residents are often referred to as the second house of our unique unicameral legislative system. Recognizing the importance of constituent voices in the legislative process and the long distances some must travel to appear before a legislative committee, new rules were introduced this session. Now letters of testimony may be submitted to be included as an exhibit in the official hearing record, permitting participation in the process—even if you are not able to travel to Lincoln.