No single policy is designed to address all aspects of sustainable agriculture, and many serve farmers who would not characterize themselves as sustainable agriculture adherents as well as those who would. But taken as a whole, policies help move the nation’s agriculture toward a more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future.
Our policy program empowers citizens to use democratic processes to direct government resources to support sustainable agriculture’s many objectives. For example, Michael Fields coordinates the national sustainable agriculture movement’s annual grassroots campaign to obtain funding for sustainable agriculture programs. We meet with agency staff to encourage proper administration of programs we have helped create and improve.
They might be federal marketing programs like the Farmers Market Promotion Program or Conservation Stewardship Program. Or possibly policies such as measures to reform the direct farm payments in the federal commodity programs.
In Wisconsin, we advance programs such as the new Buy Local Buy Wisconsin program and Farm to School program, whose legislative passage Michael Fields coordinated and led. We also promote managed grazing, bioenergy, new markets and opportunities, local food, agricultural innovation, and the next generation of farmers.
Michael Fields also works to build the capacity of the sustainable movement. For example, we cultivate new leadership through our policy internships, build the grassroots power base that helps our movement achieve its many victories, and offer grantwriting workshops to help farmers and ranchers nationwide access federal programs’ resources.
Latest Public Policy Posts
MFAI’s Stance on Racial Justice
June 14, 2020
The staff and board of Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) strongly condemn the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other historic acts of violence, death and racism that have oppressed and held our Black and all communities of color in physical, emotional and spiritual bondage. MFAI stands in solidarity and […]
June 12, 2020
The Institute is delighted to introduce Alejandra Hernandez, who will begin July 1 as MFAI’s Conservation Policy Associate. Alejandra recently completed her Masters Degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, with a specialty in Ecosystems and Landscape Conservation and Management (ELCM). Previously, Alejandra worked for several years in Milwaukee […]
CFAP Direct Farmer Aid Program
May 15, 2020
Are you a farmer or rancher whose operation has been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will provide direct relief to producers who have suffered losses during the 2020 marketing year due to COVID-19. About the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance […]
Farmworkers in Uniquely Vulnerable Position
April 15, 2020
The Institute has been involved in efforts nationally to support farmers and local food systems through the Coronavirus funds. But as this letter (below) to the editor of the New York Times points out, farmworkers are in a uniquely vulnerable position, while being crucial to the nation’s health and nutrition through COVID (and always). MFAI […]
USDA Offers Assistance to Protect Agricultural Lands and Grasslands
March 15, 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages people and groups wanting to protect agricultural lands and grasslands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements. The 2018 Farm Bill has provided USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts, and other groups protect these valuable […]