Five Critical Areas for Farm Bill Reform

Download Full Document with Farm Bill Principles in Word or PDF

A)  Food Security, Rural Support and Sustainable Regional Food Economies

Whereas inequality has become extreme and many people are falling through the cracks of our weakened safety net, especially in rural areas of the United States.

1) We advocate for strong governmental involvement in guaranteeing the right to food for all people as well as a basic standard of living. Regarding SNAP, food access, and support for regional food economies, we support:

2)   We call for the government to reinstate a strategic and farmer-owned grain reserve system to protect family farmers from unstable price fluctuations and ensure resilience in the event of weather-related disasters.

B)  Access to Resources and Land for people of color, immigrants and farmworkers, and beginner farmers.

Whereas the dispossession of lands from Native Americans and our country’s history of slavery along with ongoing suppression of immigrants compels us to confess our complicity and failure to fully learn and pass along this history, and to call for reparations for past harms:


1)  We advocate for policies which provide affordable access to land and resources for Native American, Black and other people of color farmers and ranchers, with special attention to small- and medium-scale producers.

2)  We call for reparations of past discrimination as exemplified in the Pigford class action suits and an end to ongoing discriminatory lending practices at all levels of USDA.

3)  We call for ample support and funding for land-link programs, technical assistance for transition and succession planning, and access to credit, crop insurance and other risk management, cooperative development support, training, and technical assistance, with a priority on providing these to low-resource and people of color farmers, livestock producers, and ranchers through increased funding of the 2501 Program.

4)  We call for an end to land grabs and other land speculation by individuals, corporations, pension funds and governments, which raise land prices out of the reach of farmers, and often cause deforestation and ecologically destruction.

5)  We call for stricter rules in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which would limit inappropriate use of EQIP funds by large,  polluting operations, and support adjustments to discourage overproduction and pollution of water resources.

6)  We call for policies that support the economic resiliency of coastal communities, particularly for independent small and medium scale fishermen.

C)  Land, Environment, and Climate Stewardship

Whereas changes in climate and weather patterns are already disrupting farming around the world, and these will only become intensified in coming years;

Whereas the dominant practices of chemical- and fossil fuel-intensive, single-cropping agriculture used around the world damage and erode the soil, often cause desertification, and poison land, water, air and people;

Whereas prior year disinvestment has drastically reduced public plant breeding programs which increase farm resiliency;

Whereas genetic engineering and seed ownership is not democratically controlled and research decisions are influenced by the corporations that profit in these areas:


1)  We advocate for conservation incentives, in particular agroecological, regenerative approaches, that build up (sequester) carbon in the soil in the Comprehensive Conservation Title and in these critical programs, which deserve increased funding:

2)  We call for increased funding for public sector breeding and research programs in land grant university system and USDA research facilities, which will reinvest in ecological public plant breeding programs that address climate change and extreme weather patterns so farmers are prepared with diverse, adaptable seed stocks and agroecological approaches.

3)  We call for stronger review of proposed genetically-engineered crops, seafood, and livestock prior to approval, and GE labeling laws at state, national and international levels, and for fair and open access to and ownership of heritage, hybrid and conventional (non-genetically modified) seeds; ecology-based biodiversity of seeds, crops, livestock and seafood.

D)   Food Chain & Farm Workers, and At-Risk Farmers & Producers

Whereas armers, Farm Workers and other Food Chain Workers are threatened with detention and deportation, human trafficking, sub-poverty wages, wage theft, lacking and unenforced labor laws, and dangerous conditions, legislative and corporate advocacy in support of these workers is a priority;

Whereas small- and medium-scale farmers and producers and food chain workers are disadvantaged by current policies and corporate practices:


1) We advocate in support of Dairy Farmers, Contract Poultry & Livestock Producers, and Fisherfolk by supporting policies which:

  1. Support dairy farmers and other producers by opposing corporate manipulation of prices and contract abuse.
  2. Resist the monopolization of corporations in this sector and oppose abuse of contract producers. Specifically, by:
  • Opposing amendments to the Agricultural Fair Practices Act that would undermine the ability of farmers to negotiate fair contracts with processors.
  • Opposing amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act that would undermine enforcement authority for GIPSA over all livestock operations.
  • Advocating for the economic, social and ecological sustainability of small and medium-sized fishermen and their communities.

2) We oppose increasing the loan cap limits for Farm Service Agency (FSA) Direct Operating Loans (DOL), Guaranteed Operating Loans (GOL), and Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loans; doing so is unnecessary and would primarily benefit large Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

E)  International Food Aid that Strengthens Food Sovereignty

Whereas  the US is the world’s biggest food donor and responds to food emergencies and humanitarian crises, but the program is wasteful and slow because of rules requiring that US commodities be purchased and sent on US ships;

Whereas a flood of food aid, that often arrives after the crisis, may cause a food glut, price depression, and the bankrupting of local farmers:


Funding should be maintained or increased for international food aid, and reforms to improve responsiveness and effectiveness should be enacted.

  1. Funding for local and regional procurement (LRP) should be dramatically increased in our foreign food aid programs.
  2. The response times to famine, drought and natural disasters should be improved by opening additional overseas facilities to strategically pre-position food aid.
  3. Rather than wasteful and market distorting monetization program, NGO partners implementing Food for Peace Title II programs should be allowed to use all Food for Peace funds on non-commodity expenses.


Sign up for the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness Email Alerts so you can join with other Presbyterians and people of conscience in advocating for these important policies.

yellow jacket bee drinking from a droplet of water on a leaf