The Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA cultivates markets, policies, and communities that support thriving, socially just, environmentally sound family farms. www.rafiusa.org
Small InvestmentsBig BenefitsWe are a growing community of neighborsfeeding neighbors with fresh localfood. In 2011, our second year, we created$300,000 in farm income and sold fruit andvegetables from 25 farms to 1,250 subscribers- 3.5% of the people in our rural county.-Fenton Wilkinson, Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative,owned by farmers, consumers, & staff. RAFI grantee &workshop leaderOur Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund givessmall grants – an average of $10,000 – to farm enterpris-es that are modeling creative new ways to make a livingon the farm. In 2011, RAFI granted $1.9 million to 181innovative farm entrepreneurs.Researchers at the University of North Carolina atGreensboro evaluated the impact of those grants over athree-year period. What they found was staggering.• Each of our grants created an average of 11 new jobswithin one year.• For every one dollar awarded to a farmer, $205 newdollars of economic activity took place in the statewithin one year.• In total, the program awarded $3.6 million in threeyears to 367 farmers, created 4,100 new jobs, andhad an economic impact of more than $733 million.Why does it work? We believe it’s because farmers knowtheir business, know their communities, and have a lot atstake. They already have equipment, buildings, land, andexpertise that they can re-purpose. And there’s anotherbenefit for rural economies: family farmers don’t pick upand move overseas.If you want to have a big impact on the economies ofrural communities, it’s hard to find a better bet than afamily farmer.
At Happy Land Farms, Harold Wright is using a RAFI grant to add pastured poultry to his diversified farm, wherehe already raises pastured pork, row crops, and berries. “My grandchildren will be the fifth generation on the land mygrandfather farmed in 1910. I’m just trying to keep it in good shape and pass it on,” Wright says.In the first year of operation,we bought over $50,000 worthof food from local farmers,hired six people, and stimulatedthe local economy through rentand other operating expenses.Since then, we opened the HarvestMoon Grille at the Dunhill, abrick-and-mortar restaurant,where we have a staff of 49 folksand have spent over $164,000directly with local farmersin only nine months. Given themultiplier effect, each of thosedollars has the impact of $7being spent in the local economy.In only two years, the impact ofthat little $10,000 grant we gothas been over $1.5 million.-Cassie Parsons, Executive Chef andProprietor of Harvest Moon Grille at theDunhill and farmer at Grateful GrowersFarm
For 12,000 years, slow, careful selection by farmers hasimproved wild plants and animals into the crops andlievestock we recognize today. Each variety of seed andeach breed of animal carries thousands of particular genesthat combine to produce its unique traits – resistance todisease, ability to cope with too much water or too little,ability to weather frosts or scorching heat, unique tastesand textures, and more. These diverse traits are necessaryfor our food supply to adapt to changing conditions andfuture diseases. Now global climate change is makingthem more important than ever.But these resources are disappearing fast. RAFI’s 1983study, which received its own full-page spread in the July,2011, National Geographic article on dwindling cropdiversity, found that about 93 percent of seed varietiessold in the US in 1903 were extinct by 1983.These diverse, publically-owned varieties are beingreplaced by corporately-owned, patented crops. Weneed a parallel public system that values and improvespublically owned seeds and breeds, which belong toeveryone. Public ownership allows farmers to save seeds.Because of RAFI and our coalition partners, the 2008Farm Bill prioritized funding for the development ofpublic, open-source varieties through classical breeding- but according to a May, 2011 report by RAFI and theNational Organic Coalition, only one of 168 grants fromthe USDA AFRI program supported this research. Afterreleasing the report, RAFI met with Deputy Secretaryof Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan and the head of theUSDA research division to discuss solutions.In June, we joined the National Cooperative GrocersAssociation in convening more than 60 organizations inBoulder, Colo., to agree on a shared strategy to protectpublic plant and animal varieties, prevent contaminationfrom GMO crops, and ensure fair choices for farmersand consumers. Attendees included such organic andsustainable agriculture industry powerhouses as OrganicValley, the Organic Trade Association, and Clif Bar.Saving Seeds
Whether we be scientists or politicians, farmersor factory workers, gardeners or teachers, we eachhave a role to play in passing this gift on to thenext generation. The manner in which we meet thischallenge will largely determine how – or whether –future generations will live on this planet.“Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity” by Cary Fowler & PatMooney, RAFI, 1990Farmer Kenny Haines and RAFI’s Michael Sligh talk in front of seed cleaning equipment, purchased with aRAFI grant. Kenny and his son Ben operate Looking Back Farm, where they grow organic grain, participatein a breeding project with RAFI and North Carolina State University, and work with their neighbors to co-operatively sell organic wheat to a local flour mill. Hear Ben talk about his project: bit.ly/lookingbackfarm.
Food, Faith &Community“Food ministry is secondary. The real issue iswho we are in community with,” wrote oneof the participants in facilitated discussions atthe Come to the Table Conferences in NorthCarolina in early 2011. The Project’s thirdbiannual conference series brought togetheralmost 400 faith and community leaders forworkshops, meals, field tours, and discussion.Our community of participants includedfarmers, farm workers, clergy, nonprofit andchurch leaders, state employees, professors,dieticians, and leaders of local ministries.In 2007, the program’s first conferences hada goal of bringing leaders in farming, hungerrelief, and faith to the table to identifyopportunities for ministries that would benefitboth farmers and families in need.Four years later, the conference agenda wasfull of successful ministries ready to share theirwork - buying local for institutional events,hosting congregation-supported agriculturesites, teaching healthy cooking, growinggardens, hosting donation stands at farmers’markets, making healthy local food accessiblefor EBT customers, donating land, andsupporting new food and farm entrepreneurs.The Project has now worked with more than700 people across the state. It is a nationalmodel for fostering community food securitythrough faith-led action. In a recent survey,more than 50 percent of respondents said theyhad been inspired to start or grow a ministry intheir home community because of the Project,and more than 80 percent said they had madechanges in their personal relationship to faith,farming, and food.
Guillermina Garcia of Mujeres sin Fronteras, a group of women farmworkers, leads a seed-planting field day withstudents from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, farm worker group NC FIELD, and youth membersof Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church, as part of the Eastern North Carolina Come to the Table Conference.Faith communities can adoptand promote the idea of foodsovereignty - that it is thehuman right of every person tobe able to feed themselves.Faith communities’longevity, land holdings,capital, infrastructure,and outreach capacity canmake food projects not justlocal but sustainable andperennial.Food ministry is secondary.The real issue is who weare in community with.The theologicalunderpinnings of this workare stewardship, justice,delight, creation, abundance.Food is a bridge and acelebration. Food is acommonality, a sharedconnection. Food isspiritual. Food is a right.Notes from Participants
Food JusticeThe Agricultural Justice Project, the gold-standard food justice labeling initiative ledby RAFI and three partners, liscensed its firstcertifiers in May, 2011. The kick-off traininghosted 20 participants, a combination oforganic certifiers and representatives offarmworker organizations.AJP standards certify fair treatment for all wholabor in agriculture - workers, farmers, andfood business employees alike. The projectbuilds a chain of honest, open, and respectfulrelationships from farm to table. Food JusticeCertification is open to any farm or foodbusiness. AJP’s label, Food Justice Certified,rewards businesses for a deep commitment tofairness and transparency, empowers peoplewho labor at all points on the supply chainto advocate for their own rights, and enablesconsumers to choose food that was producedwith dignity and respect for human rights.The certification process is developed tointegrate with the process for organic and othercertifications, enabling farms and businessesto add Food Justice Certification to theirproducts without an unnecessary burden ofdealing with separate certifiers. A farmworkerorganization participates in every certification.RAFI is proud tobe a founder andboard chair of theDomestic Fair TradeAssociation, whichpromotes and protectsthe integrity ofdomestic fair tradeprinciples andpractices througheducation, marketing,advocacy andendorsement.
CertifiedAJP certifier events train staffand farmworker inspectorsin the project’s rigorousstandards, and then let themapply what they’ve learnedon visits to real farms andbusinesses undergoingthe certification process.Participants leave ready tocarry out certifications intheir home communities.
ProtectingLandowners fromExploitation2040 people attended communityeducation meetings in 2011. Here,RAFI’s Jordan Treakle explainsthe kind of clauses landownerscan expect to find in a gas rightslease.Thinking about leasing yourmineral rights?KNOW YOUR RIGHTS1) Talk to a lawyer• Gas leases are BINDING LEGAL CONTRACTS. They are usually WRITTEN TO BENEFIT THE COMPANY not the landowner.• CONTRACTS TAKE PRECEDENT OVER any VERBAL AGREEMENTthat you may have with the company.2) Don’t accept responsibility for thegas company’s actions.• Mineral rights leases may put LIABILITY for ENVIRONMENTAL HARMS or other liability issues ON THE LANDOWNER, not the drilling company.• Make sure that the company is responsible for complying with local regulations, paying any fines and compensating you for lost income from government conservation programs.3) Know the impact on your land• Some contracts ALLOW COMPANIES leasing mineral rights to BUILD BUILDINGS, pipelines, and ROADS or to USE A WELL onthe property even if it interferes with other activities such as farming or hunting.For help finding affordable legal representation contact Jordan Treakle at RAFI at (919)444-1321 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More informatio at www.rafiusa.org/gaslease.htmlThousands morelandowners inaffected regionsof NorthCarolina werereached throughflyers andmailings.Before July, 2011, landowners who signed a gas lease inNorth Carolina were often signing away their right togo to court, authorizing company personnel to entertheir property without any notice, and agreeing toreceive no compensation and take legal responsibilityfor damages resulting from the gas companies’ actions.Gas companies began signing leases with NorthCarolina landowners in 2010, after studies showedthat natural gas in shale under Lee, Chatham, andMoore Counties would be able to be extracted usinghydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.Although fracking was not yet legal, gas companieshad filed more than 80 lease agreements in LeeCounty alone by late 2010. Often, landowners signedaway gas rights at $1-2 per acre, a sharp contrast withstates where fracking is legal, where landowners oftenget $2-5,000 per acre.RAFI began the year with intensive outreach tolandowners and local residents, educating themabout exploitative contract terms and urging them toseek legal advice before signing a contract. After oureducation meetings and media campaign began, onlyfour new leases were filed.RAFI also began to work with legislators in order tobetter protect the rights of rural landowners. In July,the Governor signed a law that protected landownersfrom some of the most immediate concerns. The billalso charged the state Department of Energy andNatural Resources and Department of Justice withresearching the possible impacts from fracking. Thebill named RAFI as the sole nonprofit that the statewas required to consult when writing the report.Learn more at www.rafiusa.org/gaslease.
The Right to aFair ContractA USDA Grain Inspectors, Packers, and Stockyards rule,finalized in 2011, extended new rights to contract poultryfarmers, who often incur hundreds of thousands of dollarsin debt and have contracts that may last only a few months:• Companies can no longer force farmers to spend moneyon expensive equipment upgrades, which often have nofinancial return for the farmer, in order to keep theircontracts• The federal Packers and Stockyards Act, which has pro-vided some key protections for broiler chicken farmers,now protects pullet growers and breeders as well.• Farmers have some protection from financial loss whenthey receive a flock late through no fault of their own.Find out more at www.rafiusa.org/rule.There is still work to bedone. But for now at leastsome ground rules have beenestablished.- Craig Watts, poultry farmer
The Long RoadIn 2011, contract poultry farmers wonimportant new federal protections from unfairtreatment (see previous article.) The victories of2011 were only possible because of decades ofadvocacy from farmers and supporters like you.RAFI’s Becky Ceartasand growers MikeWeaver, MickeyBox, and CraigWatts outside aCongressional officebuilding during a dayof Senate visits.Because RAFI stood with farmersto reform contract agriculture:RAFI’s ContractAgriculture Reformprogram foundedto organizecontract poultryfarmers.The Campaign for ContractAgriculture Reform beginsto advance national policythat protects contractpoultry growers.199019982008USDA publishes draftrules, which are writtenbased on input fromRAFI and the Farmers’Legal Action Group.500 growers ineight states come tocommunity meetingsabout the rule.USDA/Justice Department hearingson concentration in agricultureinclude a special session onpoultry. More than 60 growerstestify. They get coverage in newsoutlets like BusinessWeek, theAssociated Press, and the WashingtonPost.More than 1,200 peoplesend comments in supportof a strong poultrysection of the rule. Morethan 425 growers riskretaliation to send aletter.7,000 people, supportersof RAFI and coalitionpartners, call the WhiteHouse to ask for therule to be issued.2011Growers hold aD.C. briefing forCongressionalstaff
This ad ran in local papers throughoutNorth Carolina during PresidentObama’s visit to the state in mid-2011.to ReformThe Farm Bill directsthe USDA to writea rule protectingcontract poultryfarmers from unfairtreatment.Dudley Butler, long-timesupporter of contractgrowers, is appointed toa key USDA post and meetswith growers.20092010Growers visit 55Senate offices inthree days andhold a secondbriefing forCongressionalstaff.Growers speak outin letters to theeditor, opinioneditorials,and calls tolegislators.An attempt to killthe rule throughthe US Congress’sAppropriationsprocess isdefeated althoughthe USDA isprevented fromfinalizingcertain parts ofthe rule.The USDA issues the finalrule, giving poultrygrowers historic newprotections from unfairtreatment.Growers recieve informationabout their new rights.RAFI continues to monitorenforcement and defend therule.190 farmorganizationssign a letterin support ofthe rule
Genetically engineered crops can contaminateorganic or other non-engineered crops throughthe movement of pollen or seed. Pollen andseeds from GMO crops can travel miles,contaminating the fields of nearby farms.Current U.S. regulations fail to prevent ormitigate this contamination. Farmers whosecrops are contaminated may lose substantialincome. Many markets do not accept GMOcrops or non-GMO crops contaminated withGMO material. For instance, worldwideorganic farming regulations prohibit the useof genetically engineered seeds or feed, andmany non-organic import markets will notaccept GMO foods. In addition, farmers withcontaminated crops be held liable for growingpatented crops without paying the patent-holder - even if they were unaware of or unableto prevent the contamination.RAFI and the National Organic Coalition co-authored GMO Contamination Prevention andMarket Fairness: What Will It Take?, a whitepaper that lays out 11 principles that shouldguide strategies to protect farmers from theimpact of unwanted GMO contamination oftheir crops, including protecting consumerchoice, defending farmers’ ability to choose thecrops they grow, assigning liability fairly, andprotecting genetic diversity.The paper was written in response to testimonyand questions at the US Senate’s hearing onthe 20th anniversary of the organic program,which made it clear that the interactionsbetween organic agriculture and geneticallymodified crops would become a major issue forAmerican farmers. It laid the groundwork forthe upcoming 2012 Farm Bill campaigns. Readit at bit.ly/gmofairness.Fair Markets,Farmer Choice, andGMO ContaminationPreventing contamination is a two-way street.Those who own, promote, and profit from GMOtechnology must be held responsible for the economicand market harm their products may cause.- from GMO Contamination Prevention and Market Fairness
A Lifetime of Serviceto Farmers in TroubleIn 2011, Benny assisted86 families facingfinancial crisis andsaved $14 million infarm assets.For more than 20 years, farmers facingbankruptcy or foreclosure have calledRAFI’sBennyBuntingforhelp. Whenthepoultry plant in Siler City, N.C., closedits doors last summer, almost 200 farmerslost their contracts. Benny was there tohelp. By the end of the year, Benny hadtwice his normal caseload, and 70 percentof farmers receiving intensive assistancewere poultry farmers. In November, RAFIadded a full-time position assisting theformer poultry growers, increasing ourcapacity to offer advocacy and support.Benny Bunting withFarm Aid President WillieNelson. Benny recieved aCertificate of Honor fromFarm Aid for his yearsof service to America’sfarmers. RAFI’s foundingdirector, Betty Bailey; JustFoods Program directorMichael Sligh; and currentdirector, Scott Marlow,were also honored.Istill don’t understand what was wrong with me farming. If I was good enoughto drive a tractor, why couldn’t I farm? If I could drive the big trucks to thegrain elevator, why couldn’t I farm? If I hadn’t had Benny, I would have beenlike a fish on the riverbank. I couldn’t have done it without him. I didn’t have apenny to pay him. I am sure he was having a hard time, too. But he would stop hislife to help other people, and one of them was me.-Margaret Odom, Georgia farmer, Farm Advocacy client, and one of the leadplaintiffs in a women’s discrimination lawsuit against the USDA
More than 100 farm advocates and advo-cates-in-training from around the nationjoined RAFI and Farm Aid in Kansas for thefirst National Meeting of Farm Advocates.This year’s gathering was the first time sincethe farm crisis of the 1980s that a nationalgroup of advocates like Benny came togetherto tell old stories and new ones, and continuethe work of advocating for farmers.The three-day gathering included workshopson lessons learned for the next generationof farm advocates, what discriminationlooks like today, and new initiatives in farmfinance. Discussion group topics includedFarm Bill 2012, young farmer initiatives,federal resources, and land loss prevention.A Gatheringof AdvocatesVeteran advocates Betty Puckett, Ben Burkett, Benny Bunting,Linda Hessler, Lou Ann Kling, and Shirley Sherrod
At times, it is difficult to putinto words what RAFI has doneand continues to do for us. Atone point during my life on the farm,things seemed devastating. But throughRAFI’s involvement, we now have a verysuccessful dairy operation and we havebeen able to bring a son and daughterback to the farm. RAFI’s encouragement,RAFI’s continued support, and RAFI’sbelief in our efforts to make thingsbetter have been an immeasurablefactor in our ability to contribute tothe farming community.- Tom Trantham, farmer, RAFI donor andboard memberRAFI is supported by:AnonymousAlces FoundationBB&TClif Bar Family FoundationCorporation for National and Community ServiceC.S. FundThe Duke EndowmentElise Jerard Environmental and Humanitarian TrustThe Episcopal Church of the AdvocateThe F.B. Heron FoundationFarm AidThe Fenwick FoundationFirst Citizen’s BankGaia FundGBL Charitable FoundationGolden Leaf FoundationHillsdale FundLawson Valentine FoundationLefort-Martin FundThe Mary Lynn Richardson FundThe Mary Norris Preyer FundMary Reynolds Babcock FoundationThe New York Community TrustNorth Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesNorth Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund CommissionThe North Pond FoundationOak Fund of the Triangle Community FoundationPark Foundation, Inc.PatagoniaPresbyterian Hunger ProgramDan and Sue RothenburgRural Economic Development CenterSilicon Valley Community FoundationSouthern Risk Management and Education CenterTivka Grassroots Empowerment Fund of TidesFoundationUnitarian Universalist Funding ProgramThe Wachovia Wells Fargo FoundationZ. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Inc....and the generosity ofmore than 500 individualdonors.
Putting Dollars toWork for FarmersExpensesFarmergrantsProgramsAdministration& fundraising9%50%41%Income13%OtherFoundation &governmentgrants59%Individual giftsContracts9%22%91% of RAFI’s budgetgoes straight to programsand grants that supportfamily farms.Individual donationsgive RAFI flexibilityto invest in cutting-edge work, while grantsand contracts enableus to provide diverse,nationally recognizedwork for socially-just,environmentally sound,thriving family farms.
Scott Marlow, Executive DirectorAlix Blair, Information Specialist, TobaccoCommunities Reinvestment FundRegina Bridgman, Director of Annual Fund &Major GiftsBenny Bunting, Lead Farm AdvocateBecky Ceartas, Contract Agriculture ReformProgram DirectorSarah Gibson, Come to the Table VISTAClaire Hermann, Director of Communications &Come to the Table Project DirectorFrancesca Hyatt, Field Coordinator, TobaccoCommunities Rienvestment FundSally Lee, Just Foods Program AssociateCarmen Moa Rivera, Crop Insurance ProjectCoordinatorRobin Iten Porter, Financial OfficerJackie Murphy Miller, Program Assistant,Tobacco Communities Reinvestment FundJames Robinson, Development & ResearchAssociateEdna Rodriguez, Grants OfficerJoe Schroeder, Tobacco CommunitiesReinvestment Program DirectorMichael Sligh, Just Foods Program DirectorJulius Tillery, Field Coordinator, TobaccoCommunities Reinvestment FundJordan Treakle, Mineral Rights ProjectCoordinatorKathy Zaumseil, Director of Administration2011 StaffScott Marlow, RAFI’s newest Executive Director, has been at RAFI for 17years. Most recently, he directed RAFI’s Farm Sustainability Program andoversaw work on crop insurance, risk management, access to credit, food andfaith, and advocacy for farmers in financial crisis. He has served on the steeringcommittee of the National Task Force to Renew Agriculture of the Middle, theOrganization Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, theBoard of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, the Board of theNC Farm Transition Network, and serves on the NC Agricultural AdvancementConsortium and the Advisory Committee of the NC Agricultural Developmentand Farmland PreservationTrust Fund. He has a Masters Degree in Crop Sciencefrom NC State University, and a BA in Political Science from Duke University.We’re proud to have him as RAFI’s third Executive Director.Announcing ScottMarlow, ExecutiveDirector
Board of DirectorsArchie Hart, PresidentSpecial Assistant to the NC Commissioner ofAgriculture, Knightdale, N.C.Alex Hitt, Vice PresidentFarmer, Peregrine Farms, Graham, N.C.Randi Ilyse Roth, TreasurerAttorney at law, St. Paul, M.N.Alton ThompsonProvost, Delaware State University, Summerfield,N.C.Mary HendricksonDirector, Food Circles Networking Project; AssociateDirector, Community Food Systems and SustainableAriculture Program and University of MissouriExtension; Associate Professor, Rural Sociology,University of Missouri, Columbia, M.O.Tom TranthamFarmer, 12 Aprils Dairy & Happy Cow Creamery,Pelzer, S.C.RAFI staff at work: (clockwise from left) Claire Hermann at a Come to the Table Conference work day; JuliusTillery, Joe Schroeder, and Francesca Hyatt advising farmers on distaster assistance programs; Sarah Gibsonreturning from a farm visit; Becky Ceartas speaking on a Farm Aid panel.