What We Fight For
- A sustainable and adequate supply of local, wholesome food at affordable prices
- Reinstating a farmer-owned grain reserve system to protect family farmers from unstable price fluctuations and ensure resilience in the event of weather-related disasters
- A new, sustainable family farm system, as outlined in NFFC’s Food from Family Farms Act
What’s wrong with the current Farm Bill?
In the 1970s, agribusiness and its free market allies in government dismantled price floors, which had functioned somewhat like a minimum wage to ensure that farmers received a fair price for their crops. In the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act, this cohort of pro-agribusiness politicians called for the elimination of all price floors and grain reserves, in order to “get government out of agriculture,” once and for all.
These policies meant agribusinesses no longer had to pay farmers a fair price for their crops. But, for the government, the plan backfired. Prices collapsed by 1998, and the government had to bail out farmers with millions of dollars in subsidies, a practice that continues today. The price of corn plummeted, and the government was forced to make up the difference. A policy change intended to “get government out of agriculture” instead drew government in further, so that, in 2000, 49% of a farmer’s income came from the government in the form of subsidies. Meanwhile, between 1997 and 2005, factory farms saved $35 billion buying Farmer Jill’s corn for much less than it cost to produce. Family farms are going out of business left and right, factory farms are flourishing, and farmers forced to rely on subsidies are flooding the market with corn, making the corn syrup sweetened products which fuel America’s obesity crisis cheaper than ever.
How Did Price Floors Work?
By setting the lowest price that could be paid for a commodity, floor prices prevented companies like Cargill from buying corn from Farmer Jill for less than it had cost Farmer Jill to grow the corn. When farmers produced too much corn, they could choose to put their excess corn in farmer-controlled reserves, where it could stay safe until they wanted to sell it. Similarly, the government could choose to buy the corn that farmers were selling, and put it in government-owned reserves. Later, when not enough corn was on the market due to flooding or a bad harvest, and prices for corn were skyrocketing, farmers and the government could release some of their reserves into the market to alleviate the problem.
Farm and Food Policy Task Force Priorities
- Continue to implement the long-term NFFC campaign to change current federal farm policy, working with NFFC member groups and partner organizations.
- Build support for our comprehensive policy proposal, the Food from Family Farms Act (FFFA) (NFFC-authored alternative Farm Bill), among farmers, politicians, consumers, environmentalists, and other constituencies.
- Continue to develop materials to illustrate how corporate agribusiness benefits from the current farm policy and how it harms family farmers, consumers, and the environment.
- Continue to develop presentations on alternative farm and trade policy and present them to a wide spectrum of audiences, broadening support for a new farm/food/trade policy agenda.
- Support efforts to eliminate the pork, beef, dairy and other check-off programs, and to combat factory livestock confinement operations.
- Link domestic policy with international focus on opposing multi-national agribusiness corporations.
- Amplify campaigns prioritized by member organizations.
- Collaborate with allied organizations to promote national/international policy priorities.
Food From Family Farms Act
Read NFFC’s Food from Family Farms Act.
It’s Good for the Environment.
Identifying the Real Winners from U.S. Agricultural Policies (GDAEI, 12/05)
Farm Bill Resources
NFFC dairy farmers push for a fair pricing scheme in the 2012 Farm Bill. http://nffc.net/Pressroom/In the News/FB Consideration_Raw Milk_The Country Today 7.13.12.pdf
View the Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide slideshow for a brief overview of policy barriers farmers face, and smart solutions.
Food’s Uncertain Future (06.05.08) – NFFC Letter to the Editor points out cover story on global food crisis solutions neglected the urgent need for Strategic Grain Reserves. (U.S. News and World Reports)
Surplus U.S. Food Supplies Dry Up (05.02.08) – USAToday article focuses on the relationship between the USDA’s lack of food reserves and the food crisis, as well as the subsequent impact on nutrition and commodity programs. (USAToday)
Groups Advocate for Strategic Grain Reserve (04.28.08) Read a letter sent by NFFC and other groups to Congress urging them to establish strategic grain reserves.
Farm Bill Ignores Dire Need for Grain Reserve (10/07) – NFFC President George Naylor writes, “You wouldn’t even know there was an emerging global food crisis if you listened to the United States Congress. As the Senate finally considers the Farm Bill, virtually absent from the discussion is the need to have strategic food reserves, akin to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.”