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Did You Know?
Researchers estimate that American farmers and ranchers produce billions of dollars in environmental benefits annually—$33 billion in improved water quality, and $153 billion related to the biodiversity of plants and animals.


Safety Net Policies
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Policy Recommendations:
Safety Net Policies Stewardship Policies New Market Policies Foundation Policies

Farming and ranching is a risky business. Historically, farm policy has played a role in helping to provide a safety net of steady, reliable income assistance to certain commodities when disaster hits. However, existing commodity programs often fail to address these issues equitably or efficiently and are narrowly focused on supporting prices, not revenues. AFT's safety net policies:

  • corn farmer
    Serve as an effective bridge to a more market-oriented, sustainable and publicly acceptable safety net—one that enhances the long-term viability and competitiveness of American agriculture
  • Replace existing programs, resulting in less distortion and significant cost savings while providing true protection against unexpected drops in revenue
  • Link public support for farmers to land stewardship and environmental performance
  • Are compatible with global trading rules

Farm Revenue Protection

Help farmers and ranchers manage revenue

  • Replace current counter-cyclical and loan deficiency payments with a revenue-based risk protection program
  • Protect against both drops in yield and price (current commodity programs only protect against drops in price)
  • Offer more efficient, comprehensive and better protection at lower cost to taxpayers
Farms and ranches—operating at the mercy of disastrous weather events or market prices that they can do little to control—are inherently prone to variations in prices and yields. A genuine government safety net should protect farmers against unexpected losses in revenue based on actual market conditions, rather than pay farmers based on historical production or when prices fall below artificial targets set by Congress.

Farmers and ranchers, the government and the private sector each have a role to play in managing agricultural risk.

AFT's recommendations have been incorporated into the Farm Safety Net Improvement Act sponsored by Senators Durbin (IL) and Brown (OH) and endorsed by the National Corn Growers Association.

» How integrated farm revenue works PDF

» Overview of the Durbin-Brown Farm Safety Net Improvement Act PDF

» How revenue protection compares to current programs

Green Payments

Compensate farmers and ranchers for environmental stewardship
  • Create a broad-based green payments program available to all agricultural producers-regardless of size, type or location
  • Base payments on sound performance-based measures, rather than on specific practices
  • Tie to a simple, transparent and reliable measure of environmental performance that encourages continual improvement in stewardship
  • Complement working lands conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Security Program (CSP) and other programs that help producers achieve higher levels of environmental stewardship
Green payments that reward all farmers and ranchers for sound land management and resource conservation are a centerpiece of Agenda 2007. In addition to supplying us with food, fiber and energy, the nation's farmers and ranchers provide the public with important environmental services. Well-managed farm and ranch land can provide cleaner air and water, habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, groundwater recharge and open space.

Farmers should be compensated for the many environmental "products" they generate, which are farm products just like corn, cattle, lettuce and milk. Compensation for these environmental goods and services will help stimulate even greater conservation in the future.

» AFT's recommended green payments program PDF

of voters are
willing to pay
farmers and
ranchers for

— AFT Poll

With green payments, farmers throughout the country would be free to choose the most effective methods for producing environmental benefits. Green payments could help farmers increase soil quality by switching to conservation tillage systems; improve water quality by installing grass and tree buffer strips along streams; and reduce the use of chemicals by shifting to integrated pest management.

Green payments also would provide new, reliable revenue for producers. Under a green payments program, payments would be based on each farmer's environmental stewardship. As a result, farmers would realize additional streams of revenue, while the public received real value for its support of working farms.


American Farmland Trust