NFFC members have worked on a range of issues and campaigns since 1987, promoting food security, access to USDA programs, environmental protection, and economic security for family farmers and their communities.
2003-present: International Trade and Solidarity
NFFC continues to be the primary family farm voice in the fight to secure fair trade policy.
Since the 1999 meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and related protests in Seattle, NFFC leadership provided a strong family farmer presence at international meetings by participating in and organizing meetings, rallies, and press conferences.
NFFC continues to play an important and growing role in the work of Via Campesina, both on a regional level with NFU-Canada and with Mexican farm groups. In 2003, NFFC had a major presence in both Cancun and Miami. As agriculture subsidies became the main debate at these negotiations, other interest groups paid increasing attention to alternative agriculture solutions like those posed by NFFC.
2002-2003: Fighting Corporate Concentration in Agriculture
NFFC and member organization Iowa Citizens for Community Involvement led a successful two-year campaign to defeat Bush nominee Thomas Dorr for USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development.
NFFC used the Dorr nomination to highlight the damaging nature of Dorr’s vision for the future of agriculture: increased corporate concentration, mega-farms, and opposition to sustainable agricultural initiatives, and to highlight our own policy alternatives. NFFC coordinated the nationwide grassroots opposition to Dorr’s nomination, circulating sign-on letters endorsed by 190 different organizations, as well as action alerts that generated constituent calls, letters and email to Senators at key moments. NFFC Executive Committee members testified at the 2002 Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing. To avoid a Senate floor nomination defeat, President Bush appointed Dorr to the USDA during the 2002 summer recess. The Senate finally defeated the Dorr nomination on November 18, 2003, when it voted against bringing the nomination to a floor vote. Despite this rejection, USDA appointed him to a Special Adviser position that did not require a hearing, in December 2003.
1999-2006: Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering
In these years, NFFC dramatically increased activity in coordinating farm groups against genetic engineering. The broad-based campaign against Monsanto’s herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready Soybean and other agricultural biotechnology products focused on gaining media attention for farmer concerns about genetic engineering, and disseminating information about their risks.
1996: Community Food Security
NFFC’s work with the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) in 1996 helped achieve enactment of a new program providing $15 million in USDA matching grants for community food projects in the 1996 Farm Bill.
This program was extended in the 2002 Farm Bill and the government doubled its annual funding to $5 million annually. These projects enable communities to better provide for their food and nutrition needs, through mechanisms such as processing facilities, marketing strategies, farmers’ markets, and community gardens. CFSC developed a focus on rural food security, due in large part to NFFC’s leadership.
In 2012, CFSC closed its doors and transferred its programs to other organizations.
1987: Equity in USDA Credit Programs
NFFC acted as the main force in securing reform of federal farm lending practices through the 1987 Agricultural Credit Act.
The law gave 70,000 farmers, many of whom faced foreclosure, the opportunity to refinance their debt and remain on their land. NFFC, in coordination with the Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG), conducted a series of training sessions for farm leaders and advocates, provided tools to assist farmers with credit problems, and helped them secure their rights under the law. NFFC’s work in 1998 meant that tens of thousands of borrowers had their eligibility restored for Farm Service Agency loans and enabled more minority farmers to file discrimination claims against USDA due to the historic congressional waiver of the statute of limitations. NFFC has worked ever since to retain these important provisions and to force accountability of USDA at the national and field level in their implementation of credit laws, both access and servicing of the programs to all.