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
Incentivizing Planting Cover Crops
April 14, 2021
Two years ago, MFAI surveyed Wisconsin farmers about the merit of creating a program that would discount a farmer’s crop insurance premium by $5/acre for acres planted into cover crops, and the message was clear. Two-thirds of farmers who hadn’t planted cover crops said such a program would incentivize them to do so, and two thirds of those who’d previously planted cover crops said that this kind of program would incentivize them to plant cover crops more frequently or on more acreage.
Uplands Watershed Group Widens Its Boundaries
Iowa County’s Uplands Producer-Led Watershed Group decided at its March 30 meeting to expand its boundaries to the west to encompass Otter Creek Watershed.
“I’m Quitting My Job”
November 10, 2020
The statement strung together by the four words, “I’m quitting my job,” changed a man’s life trajectory from an east coast cardiologist to a rural Wisconsin farmer. A rainy November morning gives David Zimrin a break from his cows and time for a phone chat. I am excited to hear about his transition from medicine […]
Ecology alert: Feds remove protections for gray wolf by delisting from the Endangered Species list.
November 9, 2020
Gray wolf populations have rebounded considerably throughout the United States after being protected from trapping, hunting, and poisoning by being listed on the federal Endangered Species list for more than 45 years. Wolves were hunted nearly to extinction in Wisconsin and the rest of the U.S. throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but populations are […]
Wisconsin Women Championing Conservation
September 28, 2020
Michael Fields is excited to announce a new project to help women farmers and landowners engage robustly in conservation management of their land. The Natural Resources Conservation Service recently awarded the Institute and our partners a 3-year contract to work with cohorts of women farmers and landowners in four regions of Wisconsin. Led by MFAI’s […]