What We Do
Federal Food & Agriculture Policy
The Farm Bill is the primary agriculture and food policy legislation of the federal government. This omnibus bill determines policy and funding levels for agriculture, food assistance programs, and other aspects under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Through a variety of programs, projects, and coalitions, RAFI’s staff work to ensure that the voices of family farmers get heard.
Seeds & Biodiversity
Protecting our agricultural genetic diversity and expanding crop diversity is essential to the future viability of family farms, and may offer promising long-term solutions to address climate change and global food security. RAFI’s seeds and breeds work exists to protect our agricultural diversity by addressing some of the systemic policy root causes, such a lack of funding and public support for classical breeding programs.
Addressing risk is critical to the survival of family farms. Each year, farmers must rise to meet the inevitable challenges of poor weather, market volatility, and natural disasters. Better risk management can save farms and help changing rural economies thrive. RAFI supports farmers in developing and accessing better risk management practices through three key areas: advocacy, research, and policy development.
There are significant challenges facing the future of organic, ironically most are a direct result of the success and rapid growth of organic. RAFI’s mission in this area of work is to defend organic integrity and to broaden the organic community to all who share the social, environmental and health values embedded in organic. We do this by developing and promoting practical strategies to preserve organic integrity, by closely collaborating with the National Organic Coalition on public policy initiatives and through our work with the National Organic Action Plan.
Contract Agriculture Reform
Drawing from the poultry experience, RAFI provides analysis of the long-term social, legal, and economic impacts of the contract agriculture system and possible viable alternatives. In collaboration with other national farm and community organizations, RAFI works for reforms to protect the family farmer who turns to contract production.
Expanding Local Food Access & Increasing Farmer Direct Sales
In 2013, over 4 7 million Americans participated in SNAP, together receiving a total of over $ 76 billion in benefits. Only $21.1 million were redeemed at farmers markets or on food bought directly from farmers: this amounts to 0.03% of all US SNAP benefits. RAFI supports farmers markets with the ability to process SNAP payments, along with launching incentives programs at select markets to double the purchasing power of SNAP recipients.
Farmer Civic Engagement
We believe that through civic engagement, farmers can represent their concerns, campaign for change, and make the agricultural system work to serve them better. We work with individual farmers and farm groups in North Carolina and across the region to support democratic processes with high-risk farmer populations.
Food Access & Hunger Relief
We know that increasing healthy, local food access is vital for consumers, but what’s in it for farmers? In 2014 we launched a 3-year Beyond Hunger Relief Research project in order to better understand the farmer perspective in food access work, as well as discover the best and most effective role for philanthropy and community based organizations to plug in.
RAFI has earned the GuideStar Gold Exchange Seal, demonstrating our commitment to transparency. Financial information including annual reports and audited financial statements are available on our website.