Impacting Federal Policy

We educate members of Congress about the urgent need to protect farmland, increase conservation for healthier soils and cleaner waters, and support new and next-generation farmers.

From our headquarters in Washington, D.C., AFT advocates for farmers, ranchers, and their lands in the halls of Congress and in federal agencies and departments. 

Since its founding in 1980, AFT has played a significant role as a bridge-builder and convener in Farm Bill debates, working to find common ground between environmental and agricultural groups. A trusted partner, we work on both sides of the aisle, in committee rooms and personal offices.

We educate members of Congress about the urgent need to protect farmland, increase conservation for healthier soils and cleaner waters, and support new and next-generation farmers. We work with Agriculture Department agencies to ensure conservation programs are implemented as envisioned and to the benefit of both family farmers and the environment.

We represent family farms and farmers to diverse coalitions of conservation, agricultural, and anti-hunger organizations. And we do that work with the help of food and farmland advocates like you.

Our Recent Advocacy Successes

Much of American agricultural policy is set in the Farm Bill, a wide-ranging piece of legislation that is passed about once every five years. In the lead-up to the 2018 Farm Bill, AFT’s federal policy team is working to advance farmland protection, conservation, and support for the next generation of farmers.

AFT President John Piotti testified about the importance of these priorities before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry. 

In addition, AFT has helped partners with shared policy priorities capitalize on opportunities for making change, from participating in House Agriculture Committee listening sessions, to signing onto joint letters, to visiting Congressional offices.

AFT continues to work for a 2018 Farm Bill that protects farmland, conservation funds, and opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.   

AFT's History of Farm Bill Impact

The 1985 Farm Bill, the first in which AFT was involved, was the first to feature a separate conservation title focusing on environmental sustainability on farms. 

Our report Soil Conservation in America: What Do We Have to Lose? helped lead to the creation of the federal Conservation Reserve Program, a program for retiring fragile lands from production. 

With programs ranging from conservation to livestock to nutrition assistance to rural development, the Farm Bill affects every single American.

In the 1996 Farm Bill, AFT's efforts led to the creation of the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the federal farmland protection program—known today as the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

In the 2008 Farm Bill, AFT played a critical role in many important improvements for conservation, renewable energy, the farm safety net, and expansion of local foods. The 2008 bill was the first to provide more than $1 billion in new funding for farmers who grow specialty crops (fruits, vegetables, and nuts), while increasing programs that support local farmers, farmers markets, fresh fruits and vegetables in schools, and access to healthy foods for seniors and low-income citizens.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, AFT collaborated with key allies to protect critical conservation funding. AFT helped to secure more than $57 billion in conservation funding over 10 years. These funds are being invested in programs for farmland protection, clean water and air, and wildlife habitat.

AFT also championed the creation of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, an innovative approach to federal conservation programs. In the past, USDA's conservation focus was mainly on individual farms. The new RCPP, passed in the 2014 Farm Bill, enables multiple farms and landowners within a defined region to participate in larger-scale programs and achieve greater impact. Additionally, 

AFT helped achieve historic reform by linking crop insurance premium subsidies to conservation compliance, thereby ensuring that farmers who receive these subsidies protect highly erodible lands and wetlands.

As part of these 2014 efforts, AFT members and supporters flooded Capitol Hill with more than 45,000 e-mails in support of conservation priorities.

Take Action

If you believe that it is critical to protect farmland, promote environmentally sound farming practices, and keep farmers on the land, we want to help you make your voice heard.

AFT strives to find common ground and commonsense solutions to save the land that sustains us. Whether you are a farmer, environmentalist, concerned consumer—or all three!—you can be a part of our work to find balanced and impactful policy solutions. 

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