RAFI’s Official Platform on the 2018 Farm Bill
RAFI’s Farm Bill platform is grounded in our in-depth work with individual farmers across the country, focused on the Southeastern U.S. We seek policy reforms that increase the viability of family farms. We believe these reforms must also promote economic vitality, environmental and community health, and just and equitable treatment of all who labor in agriculture.
Our platform seeks integrity. We want to see farmers rewarded for taking on the added costs of fair treatment of people, land and animals. RAFI is committed to working in partnership with a full diversity of farmers, farm workers, advocates and rural communities to ensure their voices resonate throughout the Farm Bill. Only by working with all players in our food system can we provide equity for all, and in turn create the greatest opportunity for our farmers and communities to succeed.
Throughout the Farm Bill process, know RAFI will:
- Advocate for a safety net that works for all farmers and incentivizes entrepreneurship, soil health and farm-based risk management over dependence on federal programs. We promote investment in the creativity and entrepreneurship of all of our rural communities through lending, research and strategic grants.
- Make an appeal for the renewed vitality of our precious shared seed resources, to enable communities to adapt to changing climate and market conditions through public plant breeding and cultivar development.
- Promote the shared future and interdependence of food producers and those who eat, especially those who face food insecurity. We support programs that connect producers to all in their community and recognize the importance of those who have been most marginalized.
Here is a summary of where RAFI stands on major policy areas of the 2018 Farm Bill.
CROP INSURANCE IMPROVEMENTS AND REFORMS
- Strengthen crop insurance by aligning crop insurance regulations and standards with proven conservation practices, including recognizing all Natural Resources Conservation Service practices as good agricultural practices.
- Eliminate crop insurance regulations that discourage use of cover crops and shift cover crop termination from an eligibility issue to good agricultural practices.
- Increase data collection and integration between USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Services Agency and Risk Management Agency to build the tools to further quantify and reward the risk management benefits of conservation and diversification.
- Promote the expansion of crop insurance as a safety net for all farmers, including expansion of crop insurance into additional crops and markets, and build effective policies that address the needs of beginning farmers.
- Expand and improve crop insurance products that reward the risk-reduction benefits of crop and market diversification, including Whole Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance.
- Fully fund the Organic Certification Cost Share Program to assure small-scale and limited-resource farmers have access to these important markets.
- Strengthen USDA/NOP authority and oversight of organic imports to enhance the integrity of the organic label and assure consumers they are investing their food dollars in real benefits.
- Fully fund the Organic Research and Extension Initiative to provide organic agriculture with research investment commensurate with the size and importance of this industry.
- Fully fund the Organic Data Initiative to collect the data needed to serve organic agriculture with the services and benefits currently available to other sectors of agriculture.
- Reinvigorate and increase coordination of public cultivar development to expand the capacity of our universities to develop and distribute public varieties that respond to the needs of farmers and their communities.
- Re-authorize Genetic Resources Advisory Council to address the critical issues of seed diversity, the maintenance of our critical seed resources, and sound policy for seed ownership and responsible use of genetic resources.
LIVESTOCK AND COMPETITION REFORMS
Provide common-sense protections for farmers in livestock production contracts by reinstatement of Farmer Fair Practices Rules, including protection from retaliation for speaking to a public official, and protection from arbitrary termination of contracts without warning.
- Place limits on USDA Direct and Guaranteed Loans that reflect the current demand for loan programs, and assure that USDA credit will be available to the full range of farmers who require it. Ensure that USDA credit does not fuel concentration of farmland and loss of small and mid-scale farms.
- Improve oversight of borrower’s rights in USDA lending programs to assure farmers do not lose their farms because of agency errors or misdeeds. Include reform of the implementation of National Appeals Division findings, and the consistent application of borrower’s rights in guaranteed loans.
- Require certification of regulatory compliance before USDA Direct or Guaranteed loans can be initiated, or action is taken against the borrower.
- Improve and increase incentives for NRCS CP-42 Pollinator Habitat Initiative to increase the establishment of beneficial insect habitat across agriculture.
SNAP AND NUTRITION
- Protect Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allocations.
- Fully fund programs that support the ability of local and regional food systems to provide viable markets for local farmers and access to fresh fruits and vegetables for senior and limited-resource consumers.
Trust RAFI to continue the hard work to cultivate policies, markets and communities in which farmers thrive. Now, with the release of President Trump’s FY 2019 proposed budget, we see even more urgency to fight for a Farm Bill that ensures farm families and their communities prosper. President Trump’s proposal includes America’s Harvest Box, which would replace a portion of SNAP benefits with food boxes. The boxes would contain shelf-stable foods, such as peanut butter and grains—no fresh fruits or vegetables. Supporters boast the program will provide nutritious foods, in turn, assisting farmers with their livelihoods. However, others can already see the lost opportunity to truly support farm families and agricultural communities, as the program will likely rely on non-perishable commodities and take away resources for SNAP recipients to choose fresh, healthy food. This leaves farm families and rural communities behind—again.
RAFI is committed to standing alongside farmers, farm families and their communities with the 2018 Farm Bill. Please contact us with questions or to find out how you can help make an impact on the Farm Bill. Support RAFI as we continue to push for opportunity and equity for all who labor in agriculture and the communities they serve.