Crisis Hotline & Advocacy

Farmer Crisis Hotline

Farming is a challenging job and we understand that sometimes, things happen that are beyond your control. Farm crises take many forms and can result from many different issues – disasters, droughts, low grain prices, low yield, low cattle prices, etc. The earlier you seek assistance, the more options may be available to you.

Farmers: If you are in crisis (or know someone else who is in crisis) and need someone to talk to, please call us at 919-542-1396 and press #1 for the Farmer Crisis Hotline or toll-free at 866-586-6746. The hotline is open Monday-Saturday from 9am to 6pm.

If you are in danger of losing your farm and/or home, you may be in need of more in-depth assistance from one of our farm advocates, described below. Call the Farmer Crisis Hotline to learn more.

Farm Advocacy

Sitting across the table from a banker or a loan officer is often intimidating and scary, especially when the farm is on the line. Who can farmers depend on to sit on their side of the table and provide guidance, or at least act as a witness, note-taker, and second set of eyes and ears? Since the farm crisis of the 1980s, advocates have helped farmers navigate the maze of regulations that govern agriculture and access to farm credit. Many of the early advocates were experienced farmers themselves and knew firsthand the legal and financial challenges facing small farmers. We are in great need of advocates, not only to provide guidance in making farms more credit-worthy and sustainable, but to act as witnesses in uncovering poor service, predatory lending, and discrimination.

What Farm Advocates Do

Farm advocates help connect farmers with social, legal, agricultural, and financial resources and services. Advocates may also assist farmers by referring them to helpful organizations, agencies, or other professionals, or by directly providing assistance in their own areas of expertise.

When Should a Farmer See an Advocate?

  • When in need of financial information
  • When receiving an adverse decision from a state or federal agency
  • When dealing with a loss on the farm, i.e., fire, disease, or natural disaster
  • When going into mediation
  • When negotiating with lenders
  • When liquidating assets of the farm operation
  • When a major drop in equity occurs
  • When entering into or dissolving a partnership
  • When beginning farming

Our Farm Advocacy Services

  • Financial Planning: Cash flow projections, financial evaluation, discuss options, debt restructuring, provide information on debt resolution, assist/prepare loan applications, identify financial goals
  • Lender Negotiations: Mediation planning/sessions, Farm Service Agency, farm credit services, banks, other creditors
  • Farm Programs: Planning, application preparation, National Appeals Division assistance
  • Legal Services: Referrals, assistance in case preparation
  • Social Services: Applications, referrals

Training for Farmer Advocates

At RAFI-USA, we aim to provide resources and educational materials, both to support long-time farm advocates and empower new farm advocates. Check out our Farm Advocate Resources here.

We are currently developing training modules to support the professional development of farm advocates. We will make the educational materials we produce available here on our website. In the meantime, please have a look at our current resources and information for farmers and farm advocates.


Craig Watts
Farmer Advocate
[email protected]
(919) 542-1396 ext. 1

Craig is a former contract poultry farmer, who works part time as a farmer advocate. Craig has been outspoken about the power giant meat companies wield over farmers. He has visited Capitol Hill several times to bear witness the abuses poultry farmers endure in the contract system. Craig shared his story on the Farm Aid stage with musicians Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson. Craig’s story also appeared in the New York Times and on Tonight with John Oliver. Craig was named Whistleblower Insider’s ‘2015 Whistleblower of the Year’.

Benny Bunting
Lead Farm Advocate
[email protected]

Benny is a national leader in advocating for farm families and saving farms that would otherwise be lost to foreclosure. Benny provides farmers with a broad array of advocacy services, including financial counseling, legal referrals, and technical assistance. Click here to view a video about Benny Bunting and read his full bio.

Tyler Whitley
Contract Ag. Case Manager
Contract Agriculture Reform
[email protected]

Tyler works closely with our Lead Farm Advocate and Farmer Advocate to manage individual contract livestock and poultry farmer cases, providing farmers with resources and information, and helping assess financial options and strategies.