For centuries, farmers have acted as stewards of the land, growing crops and raising livestock with the understanding that the production of good food is dependent on the health of the surrounding soil, animals and plants. Indigenous thought lays the foundation for farming practices that are centered around the natural cycles of nutrients within ecosystems, teaching us that when one part of these natural systems are impacted, a ripple effect can be felt throughout.
We only need to look out our back door to see that the stable ecosystems we once relied upon are changing dramatically. Traditional assumptions about annual rainfall, frost dates, floodplains, and more continue to fail us. With stronger and more frequent hurricanes in coastal communities, more prolonged droughts or extreme floods in the heartland, and massive wildfires in the west, we must begin preparing ourselves for a new normal while we work to restore the stability of ecosystems that we rely upon to feed people.
Now picking up steam in national and international dialogues, the long-existing but recently branded concept of regenerative agriculture calls farmers and ranchers back to a way of farming in tandem with earth’s systems instead of in battle with them. Regenerative agriculture exists in stark contrast to the corporate-favored extractive, ecologically and ultimately economically detrimental conventional farming practices.
With money to make from selling seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, big ag monopolies have a lot to lose as farmers attempt to shift toward practices that naturally regenerate the land and reduce their need for these expensive, chemical-heavy inputs. But farmers, rural communities, consumers, and ultimately the global community have a lot to gain.
Through our research and educational initiatives, Family Farm Action Alliance highlights the abusive monopoly power of food and agriculture corporations. We have demonstrated that the transnational corporations who drive farmers from the land through their excessive concentration of the market are the same actors who push industrial agriculture practices that contribute to climate change and therefore the economic viability of the farmer.
With this knowledge, we turn towards regenerative agriculture not only as a climate solution, but as a means to reclaim our food systems from these corporations. While regenerative agriculture has gained steam over the past decade, Black, Indigenous and other communities of color, who are most impacted by climate change, have too often been left out of the discussion.
To advance policies that support independent farmers and their rural communities of all races in the age of climate change, Family Farm Action Alliance leads and participates in national stakeholders’ roundtables. Environmentalists, conservationists, animal welfare advocates, and farm organizations — with a priority placed on organizations representing BIPOC voices — come together to share ideas and information, find common ground, and develop strategies to promote regenerative agriculture and stand against industrial agriculture.
Our next step is developing and advancing policies with the input of stakeholders that challenge current policies, subsidies, and support networks that are set up to support industrial models of overproduction. At the same time, we develop the new policy infrastructure needed to redirect resources from the pockets of corporations to independent farmers, ranchers, and communities standing up to the industrial model of agriculture and choosing regenerative agriculture.
Family Farm Action Alliance’s partner organization, Family Farm Action, advances our policy positions in both state and federal capitols. Together, we represent a seamless chain of action from research and policy development to the adoption of the policy through legislative action by elected officials who support our vision.
Family Farm Action assisted with the drafting of legislative packages, which, if passed, would place a moratorium on all large agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing, and retail grocery, would provide producer protections in the Packers and Stockyards Act, and would fund technical assistance for Black farmers to acquire legal title to their farms.