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

 

Rural Rapport - Facebook Live

Join us each Tuesday at noon for our Facebook Live series, Rural Rapport. Each week, a Center staff member will share a resources and information on a range of topics. 

Can't watch it live? No problem. Watch anytime at facebook.com/ruralaffairs

Here are the topics our staff have presented so far: 

Crop insurance: Taking a Look at Access in Iowa and Nebraska

Family farms are the backbone of rural communities in the Midwest. Farms rely on sound risk management options and practices, and federal crop insurance is a central tool for many farms to manage risk. However, crop insurance is not available to all farms and ranches. While there is a wide diversity of crops and livestock produced in the United States, the top four covered by crop insurance are corn, wheat, soybeans, and cotton. In 2019, of the $109.6 billion of liability insured across all federal crop insurance policies, these four crops represented $80.8 billion of that total.

File attachments: 

Additional aid available for farmers in new CFAP 2

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened applications on Sept. 21 for the new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2). This program will offer payments to farmers and ranchers who may have suffered economic impacts caused by the coronavirus. 

Many farmers and ranchers are eligible to apply for CFAP 2. This includes row crop and livestock producers, as well as those who produce newly-eligible commodities such as broilers and eggs, additional specialty crops, and specialty livestock. Those who received support through the first CFAP program are also invited to apply. 

How could risk management options improve for farmers selling to local markets?

The 2018 farm bill required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to solicit feedback from farmers about how crop insurance could better serve non-traditional folks. 

There are still a few listening sessions you could call into—check out the full schedule here. USDA has contracted with the firm Agralytica to conduct these listening sessions, and they are collecting your feedback. 

Midwest farmers top list of food assistance program recipients

When the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the U.S., farmers and ranchers faced financial challenges because of market prices. However, farmers are resilient, and Ron Spicka is no exception.

A lifelong farmer, Ron’s agricultural roots go back generations. His 400-acre farm in Saunders County, Nebraska, is a conventional corn and soybeans operation.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began offering the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to farmers and ranchers.