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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We surveyed farmers: conservation is important

Many farmers and ranchers value the opportunity the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers to enhance their existing conservation efforts, according to a survey we completed last year. Eighty-seven percent of respondents, all living in an area with a strong agricultural presence, stated CSP should be supported as a priority in the farm bill.

Senate farm bill, unpacked

The Senate passed its version of the farm bill last week, by a vote of 86 to 11. The bill included a very important improvement with the inclusion of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) proposals to make farm program payments fairer and close loopholes in the definition of “actively engaged in farming.” Here, we explain where we are with the farm bill and what it means for rural America.

Iowa candidates field questions on water, health care, immigration, and more

Water quality and Medicaid were a few of the most talked about issues at a candidate forum recently held by the Center for Rural Affairs and the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County. Voters were given the opportunity to ask questions in an open forum setting in Nevada, Iowa.

Candidates for the election of Iowa state Senate District 25, Chad Buss, of Parkersburg, and Annette Sweeney, of Alden, answered questions from district residents. Issues were raised such as farm conservation, clean energy, health care, clean water, and local infrastructure.