Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition

The following information may be out of date due to the recent passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Please refer to the home page for the most up to date Farm Bill news.

Independent family farms, the mainstay of American agriculture and our rural communities, are in jeopardy.  On one side of the size spectrum, these mid-sized farms are being replaced by very large farms that account for a large amount of total farm product sales.  On the other side, mid-sized farms are being replaced by small farms, whose operators often depend primarily on non-farm income.  In the middle, and hanging in the balance, are full-time family farms, intermediate in size, which still account for a sizable share of total sales.

Family farms are essential to the vitality of of rural communities.  Family farmers buy most of their inputs from local suppliers.  They sell most of their products in local and regional markets.  Many of the business enterprises in rural towns and small cities are farm-connected.  A system of economically viable, midsize, owner-operated family farms contributes more to communities than systems characterized by mega-farms with hired managers and large numbers of farm laborers with below average incomes and little ownership or control of productive assets.  Replacing midsize farms with big farms reduces middle class entrepreneurial opportunities in farm communities, at best replacing them with wage labor.  The result is harmful to society.

Priorities for the Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition Committee for 2014:

Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer and Ranchers
Support new and historically underserved farmers and ranchers by expanding credit options, increasing access to affordable farmland and promoting funding opportunities for training, technical assistance and outreach.

Promote Sensible Commodity and Crop Insurance Reform
Ensure that America’s farm safety net works for those who need it, and limit the amount of taxpayer dollars going to those who don’t, by placing reasonable limits on who can qualify to receive commodity and crop insurance program subsidies.

Increase Access to Crop Insurance for Underserved Producers
Expand the availability of risk management tools for diversified and organic producers by developing a whole farm revenue insurance product and improving organic crop insurance options.

Ensure Fair and Competitive Markets
Retain and strengthen USDA’s authority to protect vulnerable livestock and poultry growers from unfair market conditions that result from concentrated market forces.

Learn more about NSAC’s advocacy in support of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Get the Spanish version of the document Promoción y Apoyo de NSAC a Granjeros y Rancheros en Condiciones de Desventaja Social.

NSAC helped develop USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and has been campaigning to have the program renewed and funded in the 2014 Farm Bill.  Click here to read about some of the innovative projects being funded by this program.

For information on NSAC’s appropriations campaign priorities, check out this page.

Recent Actions Taken by NSAC:

  • NSAC joined 68 other national and state farm and rural organizations in a letter urging Agriculture Committee leaders and conferees to reject the House-passed farm bill provision that undermines USDA authority to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act, which provides protections and ensures contract fairness for farmers, Aug 2013.
  • NSAC joined a letter with over 240 food and farm organizations from around the country, calling on Congress to appoint conferees and get to work immediately on producing a final full and fair Farm Bill, July 2013.
  • NSAC joined over 160 groups on a letter to Congress, urging leaders to include funding for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers in any farm bill reauthorization or extension package they consider this year, Nov 2012.
  • NSAC worked with member groups across the country to uncover important stories from the field on the important beginning and minority farmer projects funded from federal programs that Congress allowed to expire on October 1st, 2012. (Follow these links to read more about beginning farmer training, land access, and minority farmers).
  • NSAC submitted comments on FSA’s proposed rule to establish a microloan program within their Direct Operating Loan portfolio, July 24, 2012.
  • NSAC joined over 100 other groups on a letter to the Senate, urging members to vote for key amendments to the farm bill that would support jobs, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers, June 18, 2012.
  • NSAC joined several other groups on a letter that was sent to the Senate regarding federal crop insurance premium subsidies in the 2012 Farm Bill, June 7, 2012.
  • NSAC joined over 100 groups on a letter delivered to U.S. Senators urging them to support an amendment that would ban meatpackers from owning, feeding, or controlling livestock for more than 14 days before slaughter in order to prevent them from using livestock they own to manipulate livestock markets. May 31, 2012.
  • NSAC Member, the Center For Rural Affairs (Lyons, NE), helped fly a beginning farmer to Washington, DC to testify at a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on credit programs, May 10, 2012.
  • NSAC, along with 200 groups from across the country, signed onto a letter submitted to the Senate Agriculture Committee on April 19,  2012, in support of funding for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers in the 2012 Farm Bill.
  • Several NSAC members flew four beginning farmers to Washington, DC to participate in a congressional briefing on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, March 9, 2012.
  • NSAC signed onto a letter submitted to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees on February 14, 2012, in support of equity and fairness in the 2012 Farm Bill, including programs that serve socially disadvantaged, beginning, and tribal producers, as well as farmworkers.
  • NSAC collaborated with the Land Stewardship Project on a progress report evaluating the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program for FY 2011, which was released in December 2011.
  • NSAC, along with 38 other organizations, submitted a letter on October 27, 2011 to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in support of mandatory funding for farm bill research programs that support beginning farmers, organic and specialty crop producers.
  • NSAC, along with 115 other organizations, submitted a letter on October 24, 2011 to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in support of farm bill programs that support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, including tribal producers and farmworkers.
  • NSAC submitted comments on the proposed Farm Credit Administration rule which would require Farm Credit Systems lending institutions to emphasize borrow diversity on July 25, 2011.
  • NSAC and several member organizations hosted a beginning farmer fly-in on June 15th, 2011, to bring farmer advocates to Washington, D.C. to speak with their representatives about the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011.
  • NSAC submitted a data request to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and prepared this report on Beginning and Minority Farmer Conservation set-asides for FY2010.
  • NSAC submitted a letter signed by 144 organizations in support of USDA’s proposed GIPSA rule to all members of Congress on Thursday, April 21, 2011.
  • NSAC collaborated on a report evaluating USDA’s 2010 grant allocations through Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), recently released by the Land Stewardship Project.
  • NSAC submitted a letter to President Obama and the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in response to the cuts to mandatory agricultural spending proposed in the draft deficit commission report, November 15, 2010.
  • NSAC submitted comments on the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) rule, and signed on to a sign-on comment letter sent on behalf of 136 organizations.
  • Twenty-one Senators joined this letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack in support of a proposed rule to clarify and strengthen the protections for farmers and ranchers provided in the Packers and Stockyards Act, August 13, 2010.
  • NSAC joined with more than 66 farm, rural and sustainable agriculture groups on a Letter to the House Agriculture Committee in support of USDA proposed regulations restoring  competition and contract fairness to livestock and poultry markets, July 23, 2010.