One year ago, Farm Action Fund Alliance joined the fight for justice within our food system as a new research, policy development, and market innovation organization, bringing support to Farm Action Fund’s legislative and political advocacy.
Joining the fight for a more just food system in 2020 wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. We witnessed the frailty of our consolidated food system in a harsh light as families lined up for food banks and found grocery store shelves empty. Meatpacking workers fell sick and farmers faced bankruptcy, plowing over their crops and euthanizing livestock because of supply chain failures.
In the face of these humbling challenges, we had to learn new ways to work, connect with our supporters and stakeholders, and keep policymakers engaged in food system reform. We are proud to say that, together, we have had success during these challenging times.
Our work always begins with sound research. From conversations with key stakeholders to crunching numbers, our research builds the solid foundation needed to develop policies that will truly benefit farmers, ranchers, food chain workers, rural communities and all of us who eat:
- This year, Farm Action Fund Alliance commissioned research by leading food systems expert, Dr. Mary Hendrickson and her team. Titled “The Food System: Concentration and Its Impacts,” this paper provides new data on the state of consolidation in our food system along with a new key narrative: corporate monopolies are now more about amassing power than wealth.
- Farm Action Fund published a paper with comprehensive policy recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration to revitalize rural America. Titled “Build Back Better: Our Call to Action and Roadmap for Rural America,” this plan was developed in conversation with 30+ individual stakeholders and groups, and endorsed by 16 farm, food and rural organizations.
But what good is all of this new research and policy if no one knows about it? We got to work and made sure to raise awareness and educate folks about the big, often complex issues facing our food systems:
- In November, Farm Action Fund Alliance, in partnership with Open Markets Institute, hosted a virtual paper launch to release our paper: “The Food System: Concentration and Its Impacts.” Senator Cory Booker joined the conversation with 300 attendees and shared how this groundbreaking research informs policy and advocacy in our national government.
- We heard you: our supporters have faced challenges from friends and family members when talking about the fight for a fair food system and economy. Farm Action Fund hosted a series of Hearts and Minds trainings, providing a space for our stakeholders to talk about values-based messaging strategies that call our loved ones and neighbors into the fight, instead of calling them out.
On the Blog
- We took on the task of breaking down the Feed-Meat Complex, a new concept outlined in “The Food System: Concentration and Its Impacts” that shows how big meat corporations benefit from billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded grain subsidies.
- How exactly did a few companies corner the U.S. and even global food market? And how does this affect farmers, consumers and food chain workers? Our next blog, Integration Nation, tackled these questions and more.
In the News
- We connected with reporters and news outlets to help inform them and the public. In the past year, we were featured in Bloomberg, Politico, Fox News, NowThis News, The Nation, Mother Jones, Vox, The American Prospect and dozens of regional outlets, reaching over 600 million readers and listeners.
Our research and supporters told us that there is a market for local and regional foods, and abusive corporate monopolies are doing everything they can to shut out independent farmers and ranchers from these opportunities. We developed policies that would reign in monopolistic control and create economic opportunity for everyone throughout the food supply chain. Our next step? Bring our policy development to life:
- Farm Action Fund Alliance assisted with the development of two key pieces of legislation filed this year:
- Introduced in the Senate and House, The Farm Systems Reform Act includes antitrust reform, country of origin labeling, and provisions to help farmers transition away from industrial livestock production.
- Just last month, the groundbreaking Justice for Black Farmers Act was introduced in the Senate, aimed at addressing decades of historic discrimination against Black farmers.
- These aren’t the only pieces of legislation that include our policy recommendations. See our webpage for a full list.
- When the first COVID-19 stimulus talks were happening, Farm Action Fund Alliance submitted policy recommendations to ensure that rural communities, farmers and ranchers were being considered fairly as Congress divvied up the money.
- Cargill Turkey Fraud: We and six other groups submitted a legal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, calling out Big Ag giant Cargill for misleading labels that claim Cargill turkeys are raised by independent farmers. Over 500 people signed a petition in support of our complaint, standing behind independent farmers and ranchers and standing up to corporate deceit.
- We submitted public comments to the USDA on lamb checkoff program reform and “Product of U.S.A.” labeling. Additional comments were submitted to the FTC on “Made in U.S.A.” labeling, continuing the fight for fair rules and regulations that benefit farmers, ranchers and food chain workers, not just corporations.
Getting a word in on Capitol Hill isn’t always easy. We went the extra mile to put legs under our policies:
- In July, Farm Action Fund joined a Congressional Staff Briefing with hosts Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Ro Khanna to share the merits for supporting the Farm Systems Reform Act.
- The same month, we co-hosted the Climate Crisis Policy Legislative Briefing, focusing on legislation related to retooling our agricultural system in a way that promotes better environmental stewardship while creating new economic opportunities for our nation’s farmers and ranchers.
- In a meeting this December with President-Elect Biden’s transition team, we shared our top policy recommendations for USDA and gave Biden’s team the comprehensive roadmap they need to truly Build Back Better for rural Americans.
There is no stopping the Farm Action team. January 2021 is shaping up to be one of our busiest months yet as we prepare tools and policies for the incoming Congress. We invite you to stay engaged with our work as we continue to fight alongside you for a more just food system.