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)

The USDA’s Concept of Coexistence, and Its Effects Upon Historically Discriminated Against Farmers and Ranchers (APRIL 2015)

Stephen Tolpinrud 

This paper seeks to specifically assess the impacts that the concept of coexistence has, and could have upon historically discriminated against farmers and ranchers. In addition, due to a considerable lack of knowledge within the scholastic community on the matter, this report also seeks to document historically discriminated against farmers and rancher’s perceptions of both the concept of coexistence and the AC21’s proposed insurance mechanism. Moreover, because the AC21’s proposed insurance mechanism effectively places the burden of transgenic contamination—both burden of proof and burden of response—almost entirely on the non-transgenic grower this paper also strives to emphasize the contradictory nature of this injustice. In doing so, this research attempts to highlight the fact that institutionalized U.S. agricultural policies often times disproportionately negatively impact SDF. Accordingly, it is argued that a greater 7 effort should be made by the USDA and associated stakeholders to ameliorate the situation. 

Click here to read the full report (.pdf)



Kelley Cressman

Seed sovereignty is the freedom of each and every farmer and food producer to save, exchange, adapt, breed, and sell seeds in the commons. This freedom is threatened by the extension of intellectual property rights (IPR) to living organisms. IPR over plant genetic material has drastically changed the way seeds are traded in the global market. Since the beginning of the twentieth century approximately 75% of plant diversity has been lost and a few high yielding, genetically uniform hybrid and genetically modified alternatives have replaced 90% of crop varieties. The rapid disappearance of agrobiodiversity is threatening the resilience of our food system as well as the livelihoods and cultures of those dependent on specific crop varieties. The Hopi American Indians have been cultivating corn for more than 800 years. Each year the corn seeds are saved for replanting, and allowed to adapt through human intervention to the arid, high-elevation climate in which the Hopi reside. These ancient landraces are at risk. Federal policy must be enacted to ensure the protection of seed varieties like those cultivated by the Hopi. There are currently no policies or programs protecting seed diversity in the Agricultural Act of 2014.

Click here to read full report (.pdf)

Click here to read the Food Security Policy memo (.pdf)

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