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2009 Annual Report: RAFI


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2009 Annual Report: RAFI

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2009 Annual Report: RAFI

  1. 1. From the Executive Director What is RAFI-USA? The Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA cultivates markets, policies and communities that support thriving, socially just and environmentally sound family farms. RAFI is creating a movement among farm, environmental and consumer groups to ensure that: • everyone who labors in agriculture is respected, protected, and valued by society; • air, water and soil are preserved for future generations; • the land yields healthy and abundant food and fiber that is accessible to all members of society; • the full diversity of seeds and breeds, the building blocks of agriculture, are reinvigorated and publicly protected. Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA • 274 Pittsboro Elementary School Road PO Box 640 • Pittsboro, NC 27312 Telephone (919) 542-1396 Facsimile (919) 542-0069 Make a Sure Investment RAFI-USA is working to preserve family farms and rural communities and to establish - in this country and worldwide - the values of equity, diversity and community in agriculture. You can support these values and work by planning a future gift for RAFI-USA’s continuing needs. Join the RAFI supporters who are leaving a legacy by making a bequest in your will. You can help ensure our ability to continue to preserve family farms and strengthen rural communities for future generations. If you would like information on how to designate the Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA through a will or bequest, please contact us by phone at (919) 542-1396, or by email, INCOME and EXPENSE STATEMENT as of December 31, 2009 (Unaudited) SUPPORT & REVENUE 2009 2008 Private Foundations & Public Funds* $ 5,795,951 $ 367,888 Individual Contributions 387,110 276,855 Corporate Contributions 13,310 25,809 Service Contracts/Honoraria 126,676 196,695 Rental Income & Other 26,609 68,952 Total Support and Revenue $ 6,349,656 $ 936,199 EXPENSES Program Services Farm Sustainability $ 284,833 $ 364,269 Tobacco Communities 129,630 312,975 Just Foods 432,707 466,842 Rural Advancement Institute 33,198 975,937 Contract Agriculture Reform 160,014 194,922 Total Program Services $ 1,040,382 $ 2,314,945 SUPPORTING SERVICES General & Administrative $ 158,008 $ 178,659 Fundraising 137,530 148,204 Total Supporting Services 295,538 326,863 Total Expenses $ 1,335,920 $ 2,641,808 CHANGE IN NET ASSETS $ 5,013,736 $ (1,705,609) NET ASSETS - Beginning of Year $ 1,843,957 $ 6,857,693 NET ASSETS - End of Year $ 6,857,693 $ 5,152,084 * Includes the recording of the 2009-2011 Tobacco Trust Fund Commission grant of $4,748,870. A year of challenges, of transition, of endurance – 2009 was a make- or-break year for many farmers and for many organizations. Most had planned as best they could for such dark days, yet only some survived. Fortunately, RAFI was among those who planned and managed well, so even in the dire economy, there was some good news. Many years of RAFI work came to fruition in 2009. We achieved some long- awaited, long term solutions – such as much needed safeguards in poultry contracts for growers and increased resources for farmers transitioning to organic practices – that will help prevent or mitigate future economic distress for farmers. We brought new resources to farmers and rural communities through our expanded Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund. The monies, from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, are helping farmers implement new ideas for earning a living in agriculture and uncovering possible long term solutions to changing markets. We finalized the National Organic Action Plan that provides a roadmap for establishing an organic foundation for food and agricultural production systems in the United States. The plan reflects the collective vision of the grassroots organic community, and like all RAFI-led projects, it was created with significant input from farmers. RAFI brought information, solutions and strategies to communities, congregations and consumers interested in relieving hunger and sustaining local farms. Nearly 300 people attended our Come to the Table workshops, and twice that many received our guidebook of the same name. Supported by the Duke Endowment and in collaboration with the NC Council of Churches, our efforts continue to connect lower income consumers and farmers. RAFI laid the foundation for these successes years ago. Because of RAFI’s commitment to careful stewardship, we were in a strong position to not only weather the storm, but to address growing needs. We garnered additional resources to address the immediate impact of the poultry shutdowns. We provided information to a new cadre of governmental leaders, many of whom we had worked with in previous years. We nurtured collaborations and partnerships that allowed us to accomplish far more than we could have alone. We expanded our fight to preserve and protect the diversity of seeds and breeds. We found ourselves in the midst of a food safety fight, bringing the common-sense perspective of the small farmer. And we looked for better ways to address the risk management needs of small farmers. The year brought considerable organizational change as well, with the retirement of the founding executive director, the addition of several new staff members, and a truly challenging philanthropic climate. But throughout it all - strengthened by your support - RAFI remained focused on our mission, meeting the challenges, persevering, enduring. Friendraising? RAFI is on a ‘friendraising mission!’ While renowned in our field of work, there are still many who don’t know about us. We are taking on the challenge in 2010 to reach more people. It is possible for us to reach thousands more - one by one. Will you help? Most people are very concerned about the issues on which RAFI is working. As you’re talking with your friends and family about these concerns, please remember to introduce RAFI to them. People care, and more often than not, would like to know how to best help the cause - with someone they can trust. Tell them about the work RAFI is doing - the work you support. Please let them know how they, too, can make a difference. If each of you share RAFI’s work with three people who don’t know RAFI, program resources will be supercharged and results will follow! Will you join with us in our 2010 friendraising efforts to increase awareness about RAFI’s work? Share this report with your family and friends, and we’ll send more if you need them. If you would like to know how you can help us further in friendraising, please contact us. You may note it on your reply card. Thank you! Board of Directors Kathryn J. Waller, President, Former Director, Rural Advancement Fund/National Sharecroppers Fund Archie Hart, Vice President, Special Assistant to NC Commissioner of Agriculture Floyd B. McKissick, Jr. Treasurer, Attorney and NC State Senator Mary Clouse, Farmer and retired RAFI-USA program director Alex Hitt, Organic Farmer Daniel Pollitt, Attorney/Professor of Law, Emeritus UNC at Chapel Hill Randi Ilyse Roth, Executive Director of the Otto Bremer Foundation, Attorney Dr. Alton Thompson, Interim Provost / Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs NC A&T State University Tom Trantham, Dairy Farmer Helen Vinton, Rural Development Specialist, Southern Mutual Help Association Staff Linda Shaw • Regina Bridgman • Benny Bunting Claire Hermann • Becky Ceartas • Patricia Clark Laura Deaton Klauke • Sally V. Lee • Scott Marlow Jacqueline Murphy Miller • Lori Myers • Julius Tillery Robin Iten Porter • Jason Roehrig • Nancy Simons Joe Schroeder • Michael Sligh • Kathy Zaumseil Organizational Supporters Linda S. Shaw Agua Fund BB&T Chatham Marketplace Cornerstone Campaign Daniel E. Rothenberg Duke Endowment/North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina / Jessie Ball DuPont Fund F.B. Heron Foundation Farm Aid Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund First Citizens Bank Ford Foundation GBL Charitable Foundation Golden LEAF Foundation John Merck Fund Lawson Valentine Foundation Mary Lynn Richardson Fund Mary Norris Preyer Foundation Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation New York Community Trust North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission North Pond Foundation Oak Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation Organic Valley/ CROPP Cooperative Oxfam America Paul and Eileen LeFort Presbyterian Hunger Program Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels RBC Rural Economic Development Center National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Tides Foundation (Anonymous Fund) Unitarian Universalist Fund for a Just Society Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Thank you! RAFI sincerely thanks our 1,200 individual supporters, foundations and organizations who continue to stand firm with us through these tumultuous economic times. We take this opportunity also to welcome our new supporters! Thank you for making RAFI what we are today. You sent checks, you gave on-line, you contributed time and energy, you gave guidance, you wrote letters and emails to help educate policymakers and make a better world for farmers. Dear Friends of RAFI-USA, It is my privilege to report to you that RAFI-USA is well and strong! Although neither our Board nor Staff can claim to have foreseen this recession, RAFI’s long term commitment to careful stewardship has served us well. We have experienced hard times before and we did not forget the lessons learned. 2009 was indeed a time to tighten belts but we were debt free, and we were in the fortunate position of having secured several multi-year grants from Foundations. This, combined with the generous support of our individual donors, left us in an enviable position while many non-profits were floundering. In addition to the challenging economic situation, 2009 was our year of transition. Our Executive Director of 18 years, Betty Bailey, retired and we installed our new Executive Director, Linda Shaw. We are indeed blessed with Linda’s leadership. She has made RAFI’s transition a seamless one and guided us through her first year with wisdom, courage and sensitivity. As you will read in other parts of this report, 2009 also brought fruition in many areas of our work, some of which was begun many years ago, long before the issues became common knowledge. Although we are encouraged by our successes, we know that there is still much work to be done. To guide us through the next year we have chosen a new Board President. It is time for me to turn over the reins to a younger and wiser leader, Archie Hart. Archie is the Special Assistant to the NC Commissioner of Agriculture and has been a valuable member of our Board for a number of years. I will continue to serve on the Board and I look forward to being able to follow his lead! Best wishes, as always, Kathryn J. Waller President History will not only judge us by how well we managed our resources but also by how well we defended opportunities of future generations. Now is the time for us to set the course. - Michael Sligh, RAFI-USA & Founding Chair, USDA National Organic Standards Board For all who labor in agriculture RAFI-USA traces its heritage to the National Sharecroppers' Fund, which was founded in the 1930's. Fortified by lessons learned through the century, RAFI-USA came into its own in 1990. We are proud of our heritage, and honored that we are entrusted to carry on the mission. 2009 ANNUAL REPORT
  2. 2. Organic: From Niche to Mainstream America has lagged behind other nations in terms of its commitment to promoting and enhancing opportunities for organic food and agriculture. But with a new administration demonstrating a commitment to organic, RAFI and its partners were ready in 2009 to seize the initiative and elevate organic agriculture. RAFI was an early proponent of organic agriculture as a way to reduce adverse impacts of agriculture on the environment and to contribute to the development of sustainable food and self-sufficient communities. The unceasing work on the issue yielded rewards this year: The USDA doubled the budget and staff of the National Organic Program (NOP), elevated its status to a stand- alone program, and hired the first NOP secretary who has extensive organic experience. Simultaneously, RAFI and our partners were finalizing a National Organic Action Plan (NOAP) for the nation. NOAP represents the culmination of five years of meetings across the U.S. that engaged diverse stakeholders in envisioning the future of organic and in building strategies for realizing our collective vision. It calls for the creation of an expanded organic policy agenda for the next decade and reflects the broad social, environmental and health values that organic food systems afford society. The goal of the NOAP project is to establish organic as the foundation for food and agricultural production systems across the U.S. America is the last remaining industrialized country to develop a national organic action plan that will protect the integrity of organic and prevent contamination from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In contrast to the many government-derived plans in other countries, we wanted our plan to emanate from the grassroots organic community so that the broadest range of stakeholders would share in its development and take responsibility for its implementation. Farmers and non- farmers alike joined the NOAP initiative to strengthen organic’s integrity, grow markets, and facilitate universal access to healthy, organic food. The NOAP publication, From the Margins to the Mainstream: Advancing Organic Agriculture in the U.S, is available on our website at noap.pdf. RAFI leads various collaborations working for social justice along the entire food production and marketing chain, from farm workers to consumers. And as new technologies are introduced in agriculture, we raise questions with the family farmer in mind: Who benefits? Who loses? Hope in Hard Times The current crisis may feel new but RAFI has been working on solutions for decades. What RAFI-USA and our supporters have always known is now quite clear: Economically viable, socially just, and environmentally friendly systems are essential for the endurance of family farms, safe food and a healthy planet. Our future depends on a diverse and equitable system of agriculture - one that allows farmers to earn a living while feeding us in safe and healthy ways. RAFI-USA is working side-by-side with farmers and concerned consumers to create this sustainable system. We are finding alternatives by listening to and supporting the ideas of those who know the work best. It is these grassroots driven solutions that will allow farmers to recover from the economic chaos of 2009, and that will lead us into a better future for farmers, communities and consumers. Ideas at Work RAFI has assisted hundreds of NC farmers to implement innovative strategies with cost-share grants through the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund. These farmers have been very creative in finding solutions that enable them to continue farming and contribute to the rural economy. “This year has been the best year so far for our cheese sales, and the grant has allowed us to really expand,” said Carol Coulter of Heritage Homestead Farmstead. ”We’ve gotten our products in twice as many retail and wholesale outlets, and are looking forward to an even better year in 2010.” Coulter’s Cheese Project is a great success. She has provided business for 67 area farmers, hired a full-time employee, and given demonstrations to over 150 farmers. Nine have expressed interest in replicating her project. Cassi Parsons’ “Local Lunch Cart” has proven that Charlotte is hungry for local food. Her pastured hogs are combined with other area farmer products and turned into gourmet lunches that are sold from her food cart in downtown Charlotte. She has received considerable press attention. Dozens of neighboring farmers are now selling her products and hundreds of customers agree that she’s on to something. “We’ve increased sales over 1000% in two months. It’s amazing. People can’t get enough of the idea, then they try the food and are immediately impressed.” Come to the Table RAFI has the privilege of coordinating the Come to the Table (CTTT) project of the Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches. CTTT works with people of faith to relieve hunger and support local farms in North Carolina. It is supported by the Duke Endowment. RAFI coordinated three Come to the Table (CTTT) conferences throughout North Carolina in 2009. The conferences featured speaker Michael Schut, author of Food and Faith: Justice, Joy and Daily Bread, and workshops on topics from food preservation to church lot farmers’ markets. Each conference was held in an area of the state that depends heavily on agricultural income and experiences relatively high rates of poverty and food insecurity. Food for each conference was grown and prepared locally, providing income for local farmers and chefs and demonstrating the accessibility and quality of local food in North Carolina, even during the winter months. The nearly 300 attendees included lay leaders and ministers, community leaders, farmers, reporters, and representatives from state agencies and nonprofits. Equipped with information from the workshops on resources and projects, inspired attendees returned to their communities and organized efforts that led to new community gardens and gleaning projects. Each attendee received a copy of Come to the Table: How People of Faith Can Relieve Hunger and Sustain Local Farms in North Carolina. It offers information, inspiration, and resources for groups addressing hunger in local communities. More than 600 copies of this guidebook, which has garnered interest from across the nation, have been distributed. It is available on-line at or by contacting our office. Economic Empowerment This year was a time of significant transition for the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund (TCRF). The program began in 1997 as a four county pilot project to help farmers replace lost tobacco income by putting their own ideas to work. It expanded in 2009 with a three-year grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, to include all 100 counties in the state, and is now available to all independent farmers. The grant allows RAFI to inject much needed capital into rural economies via cost share support to individual farmers and collaborative farmer projects. These direct investments in North Carolina farm businesses enable farmers to implement their own innovative ideas for keeping their farms viable and contributing to the rural economy. (See Ideas at Work.) In 2009, RAFI awarded cost-share support to 88 farmers and collaborative farmer groups totaling over $690,000. That support is key to keeping farmers employed and their businesses going. A RAFI survey shows that 85% of Reinvestment Fund projects are successful in helping farmers to earn more income. The additional income translates to employment, providing jobs for people who would otherwise be looking for work in a tough job market. “As our farmers in North Carolina continue their transition from tobacco,” says NC Speaker of the House Joe Hackney, “this program [TCRF] and others like it are crucial to keeping family farms running. Their work protects jobs, families, communities and land. They help make sure that those who want to can still make a living on the farm and that we all have the variety of agricultural products we depend upon in our own lives. North Carolina ranks among the nation’s leaders in agricultural diversity and increasing that diversity only strengthens agribusiness in this state.” RAFI also wrote and distributed The Farmer’s Guide to Development of New Farm Enterprises. The 2009 publication tells the stories of past grant award recipients and illustrates the process of evaluating and developing new farm enterprises from idea to implementation. The publication is available online at From the Farm House to the White House RAFI continued to bring the experience of farmers to policy makers in 2009. We organized face-to-face visits between farmers and members of Congress and the administration. In these meetings farmers provided first-hand testimony as to how the economic downturn is impacting our rural communities. For many of those D.C. officials visited, this was the first they had heard about farmers’ difficulties accessing financing and getting fair contracts. And for most of the farmers, it was their first trip to our nation’s capital to advocate for justice and fairness. A coordinated campaign for fairness has never been more important or more possible. RAFI-USA with our organizational partners won the first ever Livestock Title in the 2008 Farm Bill. The Livestock Title established new protections for contract growers and requires USDA to report annually to Congress on enforcement activities. Fair and full implementation of these critical new farmer protections was a major focus in 2009. We educated farmers throughout the country on their new rights, held workshops with more than 450 growers, and reached over 13,000 farmers through mailings and organizational newsletters. RAFI and poultry grower associations tracked compliance with the 2008 Farm Bill contract fairness standards. We empowered farmers to file complaints with USDA when companies failed to adhere to the new law. Of particular importance is the 2008 Farm Bill ban on mandatory arbitration. In 2009 mandatory binding arbitration clauses were removed from all poultry contracts. All new and renewed poultry, livestock and hog contracts must now fully recognise the right of farmers to opt out of binding arbitration without fear of retaliation. This is the first time binding mandatory arbitration clauses have been systematically removed from farmer contracts. Since being introduced in the early 1990’s, these abusive arbitration provisions have been a major impediment to poultry and hog farmers seeking justice from retaliation and discrimination and significantly hindered organizing efforts. RAFI also led a coalition of organizations that pressed the administration to make refinancing requirements for farmers one of the conditions of banks receiving TARP funding. Staff members Becky Ceartas and Benny Bunting participated in conversations with the Treasury Department and key congressional staff to promote this. 2009 Publications FROM THE MARGINS TO THE MAINSTREAM Advancing Organic Agriculture in the U.S. Farm Survival in the Economic Downturn The economic downturn dominated the news and provided a significant focus for RAFI’s work in 2009. After a relatively strong 2008, the financial crisis hit specific areas of agriculture hard, especially dairy and poultry farms. RAFI responded by expanding our direct work with farmers, increasing education on addressing credit needs, and pursuing policy advocacy to ensure that farmers had access to the funding they needed to survive tough times. RAFI advocates worked with 108 new farmers in 2009, providing in-depth financial counseling and advocacy on behalf of the farmer to banks and agencies. In many of the cases, this financial counseling often made the difference between keeping and selling the farm. Farmers were referred to RAFI from Congressional offices, state agencies, banks, cooperative extension and other state and national organizations. We worked with farms of a few acres to over a thousand acres, with local vegetable producers, large commodity producers, and everything in between. Staff provided expert training on negotiating with lenders during workshops for dairy farmers. We reached out to poultry growers who had been cut off by their company to provide information on financing options, assistance understanding complicated lending situations, and a very important listening ear. RAFI was there when USDA loan programs ran out of money, leaving individual farmers with no funding for approved, critical loans. RAFI worked with a team of organizations to successfully press Congress to increase the loan funding and provide the crucial financing to prevent farmers from losing their farms. RAFI advocates worked with farmers to improve the triple bottom line of their operations, finding ways to increase their economic viability, their environmental stewardship, and the health of their families and communities. And true to our mission, we helped cultivate new markets. RAFI worked with a group of poultry producers in a local hormone and antibiotic free poultry project, and several farmers who are selling specialty crops into local markets received RAFI assistance. Training RAFI specializes in providing training to farmers and farm advisors on important issues that affect the farming business. Trainings and presentations in 2009 included: • Understanding Chapter 12 bankruptcy • Working with your lender • New livestock disaster programs • What beginning farmers need to know about why farms fail • Understanding the farm bill • NC farm grant proposal workshops • Understanding grower contracts • Organic certification workshops • Preserving biodiversity in seeds and breeds