The History of Farm Advocates

With critical support from Farm Aid in 1985, grassroots farm organizations rose up to combat the 1980’s Farm Crisis. Along with crisis assistance, these organizations provided farmers with financial counseling and training on their rights in federal lending programs. Farmers had been pushed to use the equity in their high land values to borrow more money to “get big or get out,” and with the fall of land values, farmers who had never missed a payment found themselves in non-monetary default.  Farmers came to Farm Aid seeking help as the USDA sent tens of thousands of foreclosure notices.

Farm Advocate Link

Photo: Rob Amberg

In response, credit trainings organized by Farm Aid and our partners trained farmers to use their rights under federal lending regulations to fight back against foreclosures and discrimination. Many of the farmers who saved their own farms found themselves using their experience to help neighbors, and the term “Farm Advocate” emerged to describe the front line, farmer-to-farmer assistance. Now, more than 30 years later, a small group of these Farm Advocates born out of the Farm Crisis are still at it, having saved thousands of farms over their careers. To this day, Farm Aid’s grant program annually funds long-standing Farm Advocates and rural hotline services around the country.

Farm Advocate Link

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