Farmers, Fairness & the Farm Bill

where issues of producers, policy and equity converge

A Collaborative Research Project with Rural Coalition, National Family Farm Coalition & American University's School of International Service (Washington, DC)

Community based research scholars: spring 2018 deliverables

In spring of 2018, American University's Community Based Research Scholars worked with DC Hunger Solutions to frame the problem of hunger with data. They completed research on different areas regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program( SNAP).

General Data Collection

This report examines data on the demographics of  SNAP participants. The report presents recommendations for the SNAP program in Washington D.C. to reach eligible citizens. 

SNAP Online Application

This report analyzes the accessibility and quality of the online application in numerous states. The report discusses the most effective way to present the application to participants across America. 

The Elderly Simplified Application (ESAP)

This report examines the ESAP in states that have adopted the application. This report discusses why and how this application should be implemented in Washington D.C. 

Standard Medical Deductions (SMD) 

This report analyzes the implementation and benefits of SMD for SNAP in different states. The report provides recommendations regarding how SMD can be utilized in Washington D.C. 

Mapping for Food Justice: A “How-to” Guide

Amber Orozco

“Mapping for Food Justice” can take on many shapes and meanings. For this particular initiative, it meant creating maps that could be used as tools by our community partners. This project is about creating sustainable maps that have intuitive function capabilities, which can be easily maintained by individuals with different comprehension levels of mapping.

This “How-to” Guide provides step by step instructions on how to navigate around the CartoDB interface, update information, add additional information, and change the aesthetics the Rural Coalition Membership and USDA County Snapshots maps. It is my hope with this guide that future students, activists, and collaborators will continue to expand on these maps for years to come.

USDA County Snapshots Map

This map was born out of collaborations with another follow student group (Leticia, Tanya, and Jeff), whose work for the practicum centered on making the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data more accessible. By using CartoDB, the “USDA County Snapshot Map” provides basic agriculture census data at the county level for Alabama, California, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. You can access this information by selecting a county on the map within these four states. When you hover over the county polygon, the map will show you the name of the county and the state it is located. When you click on the polygon, a box will appear with the basic agriculture census data. This data includes the population of people, poverty rate, crop sales (USD), and data on the racial/gender demographics of farm operators. 

Click here for the Rural Coalition Membership Map 

Click here for the USDA County Snapshots Map

Click here for the How-To Guide



The current food system within the United States, meaning all of the structures and processes included from seed to consumption and waste, does not lend itself to sustainable and profitable small and mid-size agriculture or the availability of healthy, affordable food. While corporations continue to gain size and power, fewer farmers are able to make a living and to serve their communities fresh produce. This means more families lack access to food that meets sufficient nutritional needs. In recent decades, food insecurity and obesity have erupted as urgent public health issues. This project aims to analyze the scope and distribution of the Community Food Project (CFP) Competitive Grant Program within the context of the US Farm Bill, which determines comprehensive farm and food policies for the nation. The study utilizes participatory action research through interviews with small-scale farmers and members of the international movement for sustainable agriculture and food justice, as well as a literature review and geographic information analysis. The study demonstrates the importance of CFP in order to fund local solutions to enhance sustainable food production and infrastructure that will benefit low-income communities to meet agricultural and nutritional needs. The funding for CFP should greatly increase in order to address the most vulnerable communities, especially in rural areas and the south. Programs like CFP are crucial in order to enhance local control over resources and to establish better infrastructure for healthy, ecologically and socially responsible food. 

Click here to read the full report (.pdf)

Additional Photos (Photo Credit Anna Aspenson, April 4, 2015) : Ben Burkett, President of National Family Farm Coalition and Director of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives on his farm in Petal, Mississippi / Practicum participants with Ben Burkett, friends, and family in Petal, Mississippi

Maps: Map of Community Food Project Grant Recipients 1996 - 2014

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, especially Ben Burkett for showing us around Mississippi agriculture and sharing his wisdom. Also John Green from the University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies for sharing his research and maps. 


Elise Szabo

Children at a mill for locally produced rice near Tamale, Ghana.   Photo credit: Elise Szabo

Children at a mill for locally produced rice near Tamale, Ghana.

Photo credit: Elise Szabo

Sequestration and the tightening of the US federal budget have called into question the survival of many programs funded by the US farm bill, and international food aid has not escaped the chopping block. The Food for Peace program, the main deliverer of US government food aid, is garnering particular attention this budget season as President Obama explores options to reform or replace the program. This brief offers three recommendations on how to reform the US food aid system this budget cycle.

Click here to read the full report (.pdf)

The Family Farm Featurette Series

Erica Christensen, David Golding, Casey Harrison, Cameron Harsh, Sarah Howell, Elise Solorio

A short film series created by American University graduate students from the School of International Service, in collaboration with the National Farm Farm Coalition and the Rural Coalition. 


Willowdale Farm is located near a town named Butler, in Reisterstown, Maryland. The CSA is operational year round with seasonal constraints. It is a family owned and operated farm, and has been for three generations now, thanks to the hard work of Justin and Erin Harrison (and of course their parents Beth and Mike deserve some of the credit). Justin and Erin believe in trying their best to grow food for their local community and adhering to environmentally sensitive management practices.

Some of the programs that are out there already...the bureaucracy makes it impossible. You go through a whole lengthy process just to find out that you’re going to be pushed off until next year or the money’s not there and the programs themselves.
— Justin Harrison, Willowdale Farm

A Day at the Dupont FRESHFARM Market

On a brisk weekend in late March, a group of American University Graduate Students traveled into the urban food desert that is Washington D.C. to find a farmers' market. Washington D.C. was once famous for its lack of alternative food sources and learning centers; however, much has changed in the past few decades. Today, there are at least 82 school gardens and 30 farmers markets in the DC Metropolitan Area, according to DC Greens. The interviewees are a Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market manager, Everona Dairy artisanal sheep farm worker, and a young farmer from New Morning Farm looking for his own piece of land, and they all have a message for Capitol Hill.

Don’t forget that there are thousands of smallscale farmers all over the country that are making real contributions to our food system and given the increasing likelihood of scarcity and unrealiability in our food system, they are our best chance at keeping our country fed.
— Jason James, Everona Dairy

Conscious Consumers

These interviews were conducted on the 22nd of March 2013. The three women interviewed are Molly Dunton, Sharon Dryfuss, and Renee McKeon. They come from varying backgrounds and motivations driving their personnel interests in the food they eat, and the 2012/13 U.S. Farm Bill, but are now working for the same non-profit organization in Washington D.C. Even though they have traveled varying paths, their experiences have facilitated their arrival to a similar conclusion: everybody eats, and it is about time we knew exactly what it is we are eating!

In reality, what we’re doing is supporting one corporate entity, one boardroom and not twenty individual family farms with these subsidies
— Molly Dunton

Community partnered action research on and for U.S. agricultural policy