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.
See timeline of accomplishments here.
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 enactment.
This 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, Inc. (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 1987 law. NFFC’s work in 1998 meant that tens of thousands of borrowers had their eligibility restored for Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans and enabled more minority farmers to file discrimination claims against USDA due to the historic congressional waiver of the statute of limitations. The Coalition has worked over the past fifteen years to retain important provisions won in legislation 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.
1996: Community Food Security
NFFC’s work with the Community Food Security Coalition 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 per year. 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. There is an increasing focus on rural food security policies within the Community Food Security Coalition, due in large part to NFFC’s leadership role within the Coalition
1999-present: Campaign on Genetic Engineering
During the past seven years NFFC dramatically increased its activity in coordinating farm groups in actions and activities that advocate 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 the farmer’s concerns about genetic engineering and spreading information about the risks of these products. The Farmer-to-Farmer Campaign is continuing this work, directly engaging more local groups and developing action plans to halt the introduction of GMO wheat and rice in the US among other priority issues.
2002-2003: Fighting against a Vision of Increasing Corporate Concentration in Agriculture
The NFFC and member organization Iowa CCI led a successful two-year campaign to defeat Bush nominee Thomas Dorr for USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development.
The NFFC used the Dorr nomination as a vehicle to highlight the damaging nature of Dorr’s vision for agriculture’s future: increased corporate concentration in agriculture, mega-farms, and opposition to sustainable agricultural initiatives. The NFFC contrasted its vision and policy alternatives and used the campaign to expand and strengthen its network of allied organizations. The 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 by the Senate, USDA appointed him to a Special Adviser position on December 11, 2003 that did not require confirmation
2003-present: Support For a Fair Trade Policy
NFFC continues to be the primary family farm voice in the fight to secure fair trade policy.
NFFC leadership provided a strong family farmer presence at international meetings since the WTO in Seattle 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 fall 2003, NFFC encompassed a major presence in both Cancun and Miami. Agriculture subsidies became the main debate at these negotiations therefore other interest groups, including NFFC partner organizations, paid increasing attention to alternative agriculture solutions like those posed by NFFC. NFFC’s position is that reducing U.S. subsidies alone is not the answer but that a new farm policy is needed, one based on Food Sovereignty and international coopoeration to place a price floor under commodities along with shared reserves and supply management.