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

 

Apoyo Político 101

Las políticas estatales y nacionales tienen un impacto directo en nuestras vidas diarias. Entonces, ¿qué puedo hacer yo para afectar la política? Nuestros representantes son elegidos para actuar en representación nuestra para darle forma a las políticas que nos afectan. Se puede interactuar con representantes electos a través de el apoyo político. Comprender el apoyo político y a lo que se refiere ser un defensor de las formulaciones​ de las políticas es muy clave en tener conocimiento de nuestro sistema político y hacer oír nuestras voces.

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Saluting Service: A Guide to Lending and Farm Program Resources for Veterans

With the average age of a farmer at nearly 60 years, and millions of acres expected to change hands over the next few years, many Americans are thinking about who the next generation of producers will be.

Investment in the next generation of producers is garnering attention with key congressional leaders who participate in the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and the Secretary of Agriculture. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the farm bill, included many program changes that were targeted to improve access to farm programs for beginning, socially-disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers. Despite these policy advances, many producers face barriers that impede their ability to start or maintain successful farming operations.

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Livestock producers fight for fairness with meatpacking giants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture soon will release new regulations that livestock and poultry producers hope will better protect them from what they see as unfair competition in the highly consolidated meatpacking industry.

The Packers and Stockyards Act was enacted by Congress nearly 100 years ago, but some experts say it hasn't been effectively enforced. Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, said small and mid-size producers need rules to help level the playing field with the large-scale meatpacking companies.

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.