Get Involved! Four Ways to Support Small Family Farms

Posted - July 27, 2017

These non-profits devoted to helping independent American farmers are a great place to start.

It may seem like our country’s farmers have been struggling forever, but you can trace many of their current misfortunes back to the early 1980s, when the USDA’s lending arm, the Farmers Home Administration, began aggressively collecting on loans it had pushed when land values were high. Adding insult to that injury? A series of droughts, plummeting crop prices, and increased production costs. When the price of farmland bottomed out, the government foreclosed on farmers.

“The mood in the countryside was one of helplessness,” recalls Roger Allison, a Missouri farmer and rural organizer who fought the USDA in federal court over attempts to foreclose on his land. “We were up against the government. Farmers … deprived themselves and their families of food, electricity—the very basics—just trying to pay the debt.”

It’s a sad state of affairs that John Mellencamp lamented in his 1985 protest anthem, “Rain on the Scarecrow,” with lyrics like: “The crops we grew last summer weren’t enough to pay the loans/Couldn’t buy the seed to plant this spring and the farmers bank foreclosed.”

We’ve made some progress since then, but the plight of the family farmer is far from over. Looking to get involved? These nonprofit organizations are Modern Farmer approved and ready for your help.