Federal Policy - American Farmland Trust

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Federal Policy

Federal Policy Work

From our headquarters in Washington, D.C., we work on both sides of the aisle to influence federal policy. We research and advocate for innovative policy solutions. We educate members of Congress about the urgent need to protect farmland, increase conservation, build farm viability, help farmers address climate change, and support new and next-generation farmers. We engage USDA to ensure conservation programs benefit both farmers and the environment. We partner with other agricultural and conservation organizations to present a unified vision for a sustainable future.

And we do this work with the help of food and farmland advocates like you.

Scroll down to see recent updates, read about our policy proposals, and learn more about AFT’s federal policy history.

Our Farm Bill Work

Much of our nation’s agricultural policy is set in the Farm Bill, a wide-ranging piece of legislation passed every five years. Work on the next Farm Bill is underway. To learn more about AFT’s policy platform, and how you can get involved, click HERE.

Press Releases

Read recent statements on federal policy.

Read our Policy Updates

Read analyses of recent legislation and agency actions, summaries of AFT’s advocacy work, and opinion pieces.

AFT’s History of Federal Policy Impact

AFT was founded in 1980 to fill a void. Prior to that, there was no national organization working on agricultural issues through an environmental lens. Though several factors precipitated AFT’s founding, a driving force was the need to create an entity that could take the next steps with the National Agricultural Land Study, which USDA and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality conducted in the late 1970s. The study was published in January 1981, five months after AFT’s founding.

Over the past 40 years, AFT has played an outsized role in shaping federal policy.

  • In 1981, AFT was instrumental in enacting the Federal Farmland Protection Act (FFPA) as a subtitle of the Farm Bill.
  • AFT formed and led the Conservation Coalition that resulted in the inclusion of the first Conservation Title in the 1985 Farm Bill. AFT provided the intellectual underpinning that led directly to many Farm Bill conservation programs, including CRP, EQIP, and FRPP (now ACEP).
  • In 2014, the Farm Bill passed with landmark reforms advanced by AFT, including a requirement that farmers who receive crop insurance assistance have a conservation plan to protect soil and wetlands. In addition, AFT championed the creation of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, an innovative approach to federal conservation programs that enabled multiple farms and landowners within a defined region to participate in large-scale programs.
  • In 2018, AFT led the charge that resulted in a $200 million per year increase for ACEP, the USDA program supporting agricultural conservation easements. AFT also supported policy changes to measure environmental improvements in conservation programs, improve local food marketing and beginning farmer training, assist farmers in addressing land tenure issues, and more.
  • In 2022, AFT successfully advocated for inclusion of business technical assistance in USDA relief programs to support small and midsized farm and food businesses. AFT was also part of the coalition that successfully advocated for $20 billion of conservation funding in the Inflation Reduction Act.


If you have questions about AFT's policy work, please reach out to our Federal Policy team.