Our policy work is focused on getting practical tools into the hands of farmers. We are proponents for key Farm Bill policies that target conservation, beginning farmers and sustainable agriculture research. At the state level we work closely with Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners and on Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy issues.
Policy work at Practical Farmers strives to reflect the organization’s history and values of supporting positive alternatives for farmers. Practical Farmers does not support campaigns, regulations or actions against any specific agricultural practice, policy or entity – but voluntary does not mean optional. Our policy work is focused on getting practical tools into the hands of farmers. Government programs have an immense impact on the lives of our members and in shaping modern agriculture. We know that our members’ research, knowledge and experiences can help shape sensible policy and government programs, and we feel we have a responsibility to share this farmer knowledge with the world and, at times, with policymakers.
We are strong proponents of several vital Farm Bill policies, namely:
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) – A working lands conservation program designed to protect and improve natural resources and the environment. Farmers and ranchers can apply for financial and technical assistance to help implement conservation activities on land in agricultural production.
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – A voluntary conservation program in which farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices on agricultural working land in return for financial cost-share assistance and technical assistance.
- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) – A competitive grant program administered by the Cooperative State Education and Extension Service that funds education, extension, outreach and technical assistance initiatives directed at helping beginning farmers and ranchers.
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) – A program advancing agricultural innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education.
- State Technical Committee – Per section 1446 of the 1990 Farm Bill, the Iowa USDA established a technical committee to provide advice for technical considerations and technical guidelines necessary to implement conservation provisions of USDA legislation. The committee also helps assure that Civil Rights requirements in Program Delivery are met. The NRCS State Conservationist chairs the committee. PFI has a representative on this committee.
The PFI Policy committee serves to vet policy issues as they arise. The committee makes recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding policy positions of the organization. Current Policy Committee members are:
- Nathan Anderson
- Clark Porter
- Mark Quee
- Ann Robinson
- George Schaefer
- Francis Thicke
- Jennifer Vazquez
At the state level we work closely with the Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners and on Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy implementation to make sure that farmers are seen as leaders to help other farmers make practical changes.
In cooperation with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Practical Farmers regularly provides opportunities for farmers to directly participate in policy discussions with legislators in Washington D.C. The face-to-face interaction and sharing of stories helps to ensure that federal programs have real and effective results on the ground for farmers and their communities. Read about past fly-ins below:
- On the Ground in D.C. (3/10/16)
- PFI farmers speak up for conservation during D.C. fly-in (4/10/12)
- Ethan Book visits D.C. to advocate for beginning farmers (6/20/11)
- PFI farmers visit Washington, D.C. (3/5/11)
At times there is a need for immediate contact through letters and calls to our congressional leaders – for instance, during the mark-up and amendment periods of Farm Bill creation. Action farmers are a self-selected group of farmers (and friends of farmers) who stand ready to act on behalf of Practical Farmers of Iowa on the policy issues listed above.
Practical Farmers works closely with its members that also serve as Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners – helping to network individuals across the state and share information regarding working lands conservation practices such as cover crops, crop rotation, grazing and other continuous living cover practices.
PFI Policy email discussion list
Open to all members of Practical Farmers of Iowa, the PFIPolicy list is a place for discussion of policy concerns, legislation, and action alerts. Email email@example.com if you’d like to be added to the list.