Issue Area: Social Justice

“RAFI is a social justice organization that works in agriculture, not an agriculture organization that works in justice.” – Scott Marlow, Executive Director
RAFI’s commitment to social justice and democracy is core to the organization’s values and approach. Our core values include: integrity, equal opportunity, economic justice, grassroots democracy, respect for diversity, ecological balance, sustainability and community partnership. RAFI programs are guided by the mission, vision and core values grounded in social consciousness and action that create a just society, offer opportunity, and develop individuals. As an organization that inherited a legacy of courageous activism and organizing that crosses boundaries, our programmatic work is focused on equal opportunity for all, and addressing deep structural injustice. Our vision for agriculture is a clear reflection of our firm commitment to social justice:
  • Family farmers have the power to earn a fair and dependable income.
  • Everyone who labors in agriculture is respected, protected, and valued by society.
  • Air, water, and soil are preserved for future generations.
  • The land yields healthy and abundant food and fiber that is accessible to all members of society.
  • The full diversity of seeds and breeds, the building blocks of agriculture, are reinvigorated and publicly protected.

Theory of Change

Our approach to change is built on the assumption that environmental sustainability, economic viability, biodiversity, and social justice are inextricably linked, and that the best way to ensure a just, sustainable future for farming is to create markets, policies, and communities that reward farmers for doing the right thing.

Areas of Work in Justice:

Recent Articles:

  • Big Chicken Companies Own or Control Everything Except the Farm, But Why? (7/14/2016) - Ninety-seven percent of the chicken we eat is produced by a farmer under contract with a big chicken company. In 2015, people consumed 112,000,000 metric tons of chicken globally. That’s an unfathomable quantity. So here’s one way to visualize it: That amounts the weight of two-thirds of all the cars on the road today in the United States—in chickens.  
  • Shirley Sherrod Presents “Arc of Justice” Film at RAFI (6/9/2016) - Check out the trailer for the film "Arc of Justice," a new documentary that traces the remarkable story of the nation's first community land trust, New Communities, and tells a deeply inspiring story of racial justice, community organizing, and perseverance in the face of enormous obstacles.
  • #TBT: Revisiting “The Plucking of the American Chicken Farmer” — 15 Years Later (5/14/2015) - In 1999, The Baltimore Sun ran a three-part series on the poultry industry and the farmers caught up in the abusive contracts and paralyzing debt that have since become all too common in contract poultry production. The series began with “The Plucking of the American Chicken Farmer,” which detailed the ruination of poultry farmers and pinpointed how some major companies were even cheating their growers. Collectively, the series presented 10 months of investigative work conducted by reporters Dan Fesperman and Kate Shatzkin.
  • #TBT: What Does This Pickle Jar Have to Do with RAFI? (4/30/2015) - To celebrate our 25th anniversary as an independent nonprofit this year, we’ve started a new series that combines reflections on our history with the popular “Throwback Thursday” (#TBT) social media trend. Look for new articles here on Thursdays tagged with the #TBT hashtag and join us for a look back into RAFI’s long history of […]
  • RAFI Celebrates National Farmworker Awareness Week 2015 (3/23/2015) - Tomorrow begins National Farmworker Awareness Week 2015 to raise awareness about farmworker conditions and to honor their important contributions to us every day. NFAW was started by Student Action with Farmworkers as a week of action for students and community members to raise awareness about farmworker issues on our campuses and in our communities. RAFI […]
  • Every (Farmer’s) Vote Counts: Candidate Highlight of Dorathy Barker (11/21/2014) - In our “Every (Farmer’s) Vote Counts” series, we here at RAFI have been spreading the word about ongoing FSA county committee elections. As part of our Farmer Leadership Network, we support family farmers to become more involved in the groups that make decisions about their farms and their livelihoods.
  • New video interview highlights work of farmworker youth (4/17/2014) - Children as young as 6 years old work in North Carolina fields. Farmworker youth have the highest high school dropout rate in the nation. Neftali Cuello is a prominent youth leader of Poder Juvenil Campesino (Rural Youth Power), a group of youth farmworkers and activists.
  • [Guest Post] Swanton Berry Farm: Bringing Justice to the Table (4/2/2014) - Swanton Berry Farm in California adopts AJP's Food Justice Certification. The label sets rigorous standards for the respectful treatment of farmworkers, living wages, safe working conditions and collective bargaining rights.
  • organic crop insurance press release [Guest Post] At What Cost? Food Hubs, Walmart, and Local Food (3/27/2014) - In this pervasive global system, the effects of our food choices are hidden, and we are unable to see our impacts as consumers and citizens. We are, though, in a movement to liberate food and agriculture from the control of impersonal economic forces, misguided policy, and corporate domination.
  • RAFI’s Farm Sustainability Director, paternity leave featured on CNN (6/18/2013) - RAFI is featured on CNN among only 11.4% of U.S. workplaces to offer paternity leave.
  • Protect livestock and poultry producers from unfair contracts (5/30/2013) - Current policies offer little to protect growers against abusive contracts. Tell your senators to support amendments that protect livestock and poultry producers from unfair and deceptive contracting practices.
  • God’s First Gift: Seeds, markets, and biodiversity (2/2/2012) - Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And […]