RAFI’s Farm Sustainability Program serves small and mid-scale family farmers by assisting them in transitioning to more sustainable farming operations and increasing their chances for success. The transition to high-value, differentiated markets is crucial to the success of mid-scale family farms. Family farmers are uniquely situated to fill the growing demand for specialty products that provide environmental benefits. Through RAFI’s Farm Sustainability program, we:
- Assist individual farmers who are facing financial crisis.
- Provide training and publications for farmers and advocates on significant agricultural issues.
- Advocate for policies that encourage and support the transition to sustainable farming operations.
RAFI’s Farm Advocates save and strengthen family farms in crisis. We provide financial planning assistance and advocate for the farmer to lenders and other agencies.
We serve diverse farms across the Southeast. They range from small, specialty operations to livestock and commodity operations on thousands of acres. Many of the farms are owned and operated by minority farmers.
RAFI provides expert knowledge in complex lending situations and two decades of experience fighting to keep family farmers on the land. We do not provide direct financial relief.
When should a farmer see a farm advocate?
- When in need of financial information
- When receiving an adverse decision from a state or federal agency
- When dealing with a loss on the farm, i.e., fire, disease or natural disaster
- When going into mediation
- When negotiating with lenders
- When liquidating assets of the farm operation
- When opening accounts have substantially increased over 12 months
- When a major drop in your equity over a period of 12 months occurs
- When entering into or dissolving a partnership
- When beginning farming
Farm Advocacy Services
Financial Planning: Cash flow projections, Evaluate financial position, Identify problem areas, Discuss options, Debt restructuring, Provide information on debt resolution, Assist/prepare loan applications Identify financial goals
Lender Negotiations: Mediation planning/sessions, Farm Service Agency, Farm Credit Services, Banks, Other creditors
Farm Programs: Planning, Application, Appeals
Legal Services: Referrals, Assist in case preparation
Social Services: Applications, Appeals, Referrals
RAFI is now providing former Townsends / Omtron grower with assistance. For more information about our services see:
- Financial counseling for former Towsends or Omtron growers
- Reference Guide to Local Counseling and Support Services for Former Poultry Growers
If you are a farmer in need of assistance, please call RAFI at (919) 542-1396 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday –- Friday. If you need immediate assistance, please call Farm Aid at (800) FARM-AID.
In 2010, our farm advocate assisted 102 family farmers preserving $32.4M in assets. In 2011, we worked with 86 family farmers providing financial counseling and mediation services where needed preserving more than $14.2 million dollars in assets. In 2011, our lead farm advocate helped secure more than $5M in capital for farmers via new and restructured loans and helped farmers access $47,000 in previously denied insurance claims.
In 2011, RAFI-USA provided direct service to 41 farm families and helped preserve $15,065,000 in farm assets. Thanks to the addition of a new farm advocate, we have responded to requests for assistance from poultry producers who have been cut off due to the closing of two Townsend processing facilities. Poultry producers continue to seek solutions, as they struggle to meet their financial obligations and seek new sources of income.
RAFI brings the experience of family farmers to state and national policy debates through education and legislative advocacy. Together with partners across the United States, we increase the ways farm policies and regulations support family farmers.
RAFI also trains farmers and farm advisors on specific issues and their effect on mid-scale family farms. These issues include:
- Disaster assistance programs
- Access to credit
- Commodity policy and the Farm Bill
- Crop Insurance: RAFI staff testified before Congress on the need for crop insurance programs to keep up with the changes in agriculture. RAFI advocates for crop insurance options that work effectively for all farmers, including organic and value-added producers. Learn more about USDA disaster and insurance programs and the new USDA organic commodity insurance options.
- Emergency Response: We connect farmers to sources of disaster relief funding and have trained hundreds of farm advisors in five states in the wake of disasters. Learn more about preparing for and responding to disasters.
- Publications: Our publications increase the ability of farmers and farm advocates to engage effectively in the political process.