We are at a crossroads for family farms and the future of our food and agriculture.
We know the many challenges confronting family farms:
- An aging farm population and a shortage of new farmers,
- High input costs and volatile markets,
- Farm consolidation and a wave of anti-competitive agribusiness mergers,
- Speculation in farmland that shifts ownership out of the hands of active farmers and wealth out of rural communities.
We also face threats to the farm ecosystem and the security of our food supply:
- A warming and destabilized climate,
- More frequent and severe droughts and flooding,
- Continued loss of top soil and declining soil health and productivity,
- Impaired waterways and less available water overall.
This list can seem daunting, even to the most experienced advocates and organizers among us, and it can feel like there are too few voices willing to speak up.
It is precisely in times like these that we are called to come together as a community, with optimism and hope to fight for the future that we want.
That is the history of our organization.
As we have for the past 100 years, the Iowa Farmers Union will continue to be the voice of family farmers in the important work that lies ahead.
To support that work in the coming year, we have set an ambitious goal:
Raise $10,000 in the first 10 days of December.
What should you know about supporting the Iowa Farmers Union?
- We are growing. From 2013 to the end of 2015, IFU membership increased by nearly 75 percent, and one-third of those new members are beginning farmers. Your financial support allows us to maintain paid membership staff to continue to grow and serve the next generation of family farmers and advocates.
- We are grassroots. Every year Farm & Food Lobby Day brings dozens of family farm advocates to the State Capitol. Every fall, the NFU Fly-in brings hundreds of family farmers to Washington, DC and Capitol Hill. Your financial support allows us to organize effective citizen lobbying efforts and offer travel stipends to bring the voices of our members directly to their elected officials.
- We are a unique and respected voice. Our members write our policy, and we are not afraid to take strong positions on behalf of family farms on issues like water quality, food labeling, pesticide drift, climate change, CAFO regulation, and the Farm Bill. Your financial support allows us to maintain a highly qualified, professional government relations team and ensures that we will have a seat at the table when important decisions are made.
- We rely on the generosity of our members. IFU is a growing organization with limited paid staff. So much of the work that we do depends on the time and talent of our volunteers, and we sometimes have to leave opportunities on the table because we don’t have the resources to pursue them. Your financial support will allow us to increase the capacity of our organization to continue to grow and do more of the work that matters to you.
We have a lot planned for 2017: getting to work on the next Farm Bill; pursuing state policy priorities around clean water, CAFO regulation, pesticide drift, and local foods; hosting workshops on cooperative business development and food safety (FSMA) compliance; and continuing to grow our membership and train a new generation of leaders and advocates for family agriculture.
The 2016 election cycle featured media portrayals of a rural America that is anxious, fearful, and disempowered. This is not the rural America that we know. Together we can prove worthy of the challenges that we face and take charge of our common destiny. With your support, the Iowa Farmers Union will continue to lead that fight for family farms and rural communities for another 100 years.