Farm Advocacy

A helping hand for farmers in need

Farm Advocacy

RAFI-USA farm advocates provide expertise and guidance to save or strengthen farms. From working with lenders to dealing with disasters, our work is tailored to meet the individual needs of each farmer. We provide expert knowledge in complex lending situations, combined with more than two decades of experience fighting to keep family farmers on their land. We serve diverse farms across the Southeast, ranging from small, specialty operations to livestock and commodity operations on thousands of acres. We also operate a hotline for farmers (866.586.6746) to call when they need immediate help.

We provide farmers assistance with any of the following:

  • Farm financial viability and managing financial crisis
  • Minimizing and managing risks
  • Navigating federal farm and disaster programs
  • Assistance in negotiations with lenders and creditors

When Might a Farmer See an Advocate?

  • 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

Thanks to our generous donors, our services are currently provided free of charge to farmers in need. Services are offered based on our staff’s current caseload and availability. If we are unable to provide assistance, we will do our best to refer you to someone who can provide assistance. To learn more about our services or if you are in crisis (or know someone else who is in crisis) and need someone to talk to, please call the Farmer Crisis Hotline or toll-free at 866.586.6746. The hotline is open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Farm Advocate Link

In partnership with Farm Aid, RAFI-USA, and others, the Farm Advocate Link connects farmers and ranchers in need to a national network of farm advocates, who provide support and referrals. Get access to advocates across the country, including farm finance experts, attorneys, rural organizers, social workers, crisis counselors, and of course, farmers themselves. Access this network through Farm Aid’s hotline (1-800-FARMAID) and [email protected].

SARE Research Project 2020-2021

RAFI-USA is proud to be on the front lines of addressing the impact of severe financial distress on farms and farm families. “Navigating Farm Financial and Mental Health Crises,” is a project that aims to reduce the loss of farms and lives by researching the combined financial, land tenure, and mental health issues faced by farm families in severe financial distress. Our approach addresses the experience of farm financial stress as “financial trauma,” and applies a trauma-focused and culturally appropriate lens to enhance the ability of farm families to move beyond crisis. Forty-five (45) farmers who have experienced farm financial crisis will be interviewed to determine what information they needed, if / how they were able to access information needed, and what impediments they may have encountered. 

The project’s goals are two-fold: to determine the most effective methods of communication and intervention in African American, Indigenous, and white farm communities in order to improve their decision-making capacity and ability to access resources when in crisis. Secondly, to expand the capacity of service providers to support farmers facing the loss of farm assets or their farm.

Based on what we learn, we will identify gaps in available resources and adapt or develop new materials that support farmers in crisis. 

We will also identify methods for effectively disseminating these resources. Working with our farmer partners to co-create draft materials, we will disseminate these through direct service to farmers, at our partner organizations, as well as through broad publication online.

This project is a collaborative effort with Farmers, the Land Loss Prevention Project, NC Agromedicine Institute, and National Center for Appropriate Technology.

This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-38640-29878 through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE). USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider.

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