Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA

aka RAFI-USA   |   Pittsboro, NC   |  http://www.rafiusa.org

Mission

RAFI-USA challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities.

Ruling year info

1990

Executive Director

Ms. Edna Rodriguez

Main address

PO Box 640

Pittsboro, NC 27312 USA

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EIN

56-1704863

NTEE code info

Other Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition N.E.C. (K99)

Community Coalitions (S21)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (S01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our food system is flawed and deeply inequitable; a reality exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and that RAFI-USA has been working to change for thirty years. Rural communities - its small farmers, people, land and resources - have long been exploited to benefit the corporate dominated food and agriculture system. RAFI-USA sees environmental sustainability, economic viability, biodiversity, and social justice as inextricably linked components for repairing this broken system. We work to ensure farmers have access to the tools they need to make the right choices for their farms and families as well as for their communities and the environment. As the COVID-19 pandemic quickly began disrupting small farmers’ market options and food availability and access, RAFI-USA pivoted to provide help through emergency mini-grants, increased technical assistance, and policy advocacy.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Just Foods

From promoting meaningful standards for organic agriculture to pioneering new standards for social justice in the food system, Just Foods projects seek to make fair, sustainable farming a viable choice. Because protecting agricultural genetic diversity is essential to the viability of family farms, Just Foods advocates for funding for classical breeding programs and supports publicly-held seeds and breeds to counter corporate dominance of seed and breed production. The Southern Farmers Seed Cooperative and NC Seed Stewards projects are examples of this kind of work.
(Budget is 2020)

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Adults

Farm Advocacy provides one-on-one counseling and technical assistance to farmers facing financial crises and who stand to lose their farms without immediate support. We use our in-depth knowledge of farm programs to respond to farmers’ needs, from administrative appeals, to insurance issues and problems obtaining credit. Our team staffs the Farmer Crisis Hotline (866-586-6746). We also develop tools and resources, and promote policies that help farmers reach greater financial stability and greater parity with corporate agriculture.
(Budget is 2020)

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Economically disadvantaged people

Challenging Corporate Power is fighting corporate concentration, structural injustices, power imbalances, and a lack of transparency and accountability in livestock agriculture. Our aim is to dismantle corporate dominance of animal agriculture while also working to build a viable, more sustainable and ethical alternative for farmers.

Programs' primary goals:
1) End the trend of consolidation and concentration in the meat industry with stronger antitrust enforcement and by holding corporations and government accountable to ensure greater protections for farmers, workers and consumers from abusive and unfair corporate practices ;
2) Build alternative, inclusive livestock economies in which farmers share equitably in profits, and which benefit their communities, consumers and the environment.

The program engages farmers and other key stakeholders in efforts to improve national policy, force the industry to be more just and support the growth of viable alternatives for farmers. The fiscally sponsored project, Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform (CCAR) is included as part of this program. CCAR is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a voice for farmers and ranchers involved in contract agriculture, as as in the communities in which they live.
(Budget is 2020)

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Economically disadvantaged people

Come to the Table is a multifaceted program that focuses on systemic solutions to food access that also strengthens just and sustainable agriculture. The program works with faith communities, hunger relief advocates and farmers to engage and mobilize them on issues of food access and justice in the food system. The program delivers conferences and events, technical assistance, training focuses on building equity in the food system, and collaborative networks and resources. During the pandemic, Come to the Table is helping establish new partnerships between churches/food pantries and farmers in their localities to increase availability of fresh foods as well as create new markets for farmers whose traditional customers were closed.
(Budget is 2020)

Population(s) Served
Interfaith groups
Economically disadvantaged people

Our Expanding Farmers Market Access project coordinates two food access incentive programs at North Carolina markets to improve food access and inclusivity for community members, as well as, provide small farmers new sale outlets. The Fresh Bucks program, through a USDA FINI grant, is an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) incentive available at 14 NC farmers markets, mobile markets, and co-op groceries with a focus on increasing the capacity of small, rural markets. The Triangle Double Bucks program, through a corporate sponsorship with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, provides matching incentives for SNAP recipients, WIC, and WIC FMNP clients, and people living in Section 8 Housing at 6 farmers markets. SNAP incentive usage through these programs is dramatically increasing during the pandemic, as much as 431% over 2019.
(Budget is 2020)

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Farmers

Farmers of color in the U.S. have long been disadvantaged by systemic and institutional racism, including discrimination in accessing credit, loans, resources and markets. In 2017, we founded the Farmers of Color Network (FOCN) to develop a holistic economic and cultural ecosystem that values BIPOC farmers in regional food systems throughout the Southeast. The Network provides farmer-led technical assistance, market solutions and funding opportunities through infrastructure grants. FOCN hosts farm tours, networking events and gatherings to highlight ancestral traditions and knowledge. In 2020, FOCN began work on a research project to improve Native American, African American and White farmers’ mental health assistance programs in a culturally appropriate way.
(Budget is 2020)

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Ethnic and racial groups

National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a “Washington voice” for farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, consumers and industry members involved in organic agriculture.

Durham Farmers Market’s Double Bucks is an incentive program at the Durham Farmers Market that provides up to $10 in matching funds per customer for purchases made with SNAP benefits.

Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform (CCAR) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a voice for farmers and ranchers involved in contract agriculture as well as for the communities in which they live.

North Carolina Community Garden Partners (NCCGP) is a volunteer-based grassroots initiative dedicated to increasing the quantity, quality and sustainability of community gardens across North Carolina.
(Budget is 2020)

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Activist of the Year 2012

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total grants distributed for innovative farming projects

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Farmers, Ethnic and racial groups

Related Program

Farmers of Color Network (FOCN)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The ARF project did not continue beyond 2019. In 2020, RAFI-USA began the Farmers of Color Infrastructure Fund and awarded 27 farmers and farm projects grants.

Total dollar value of farm assets retained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Farmers

Related Program

Farm Advocacy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

RAFI-USA challenges the root causes of inequities in the food system and supports and advocates for economically, racially, and ecologically-just farm communities.

-- we aim to help farmers weather financial crises, buck the exploitative corporate agriculture system and gain greater self-determination.

-- we aim to help local and regional food and agricultural stakeholders build new, mutually-beneficial partnerships that support more just and sustainable rural communities.

-- we aim to advocate strongly at the state and federal levels for policies which ensure more equitable distribution of public resources that serve everyone, not just the politically powerful.

-- Preserve farm and community assets through one-on-one support for farmers navigating financial crisis.
-- Support BIPOC farmers by creating mutually-supportive spaces for peer-to-peer training and uplifting traditional practices, as well as providing technical assistance and infrastructure grants.
-- Advocate and mobilize for more equitable public policy that challenges corporate food and agriculture systems.
-- Work through coalitions and partnerships to strengthen collective knowledge and power.
-- Build mutually beneficial relationships between local farmers and consumers.
-- Provide technical assistance to farmers, farmers markets and hunger relief organizations to increase food security and market opportunities.
-- Support innovative, replicable cooperatives as models of seed sovereignty.
-- Educate and engage our communities on issues of food access and justice.

RAFI-USA has built a reputation for implementing innovative and practical solutions to reforming our inequitable corporate agriculture system. RAFI-USA's history and proven impact make the organization uniquely qualified to bring together farmers and broad coalitions to work towards our common goals.

For 30 years RAFI-USA has provided one-on-one technical assistance and financial/risk management counseling to farm families. Our program direction and advocacy efforts are built upon our work directly with farmers.

Our Farmers of Color Network is staffed by people of color and decision-makers for our infrastructure granting are 100% BIPOC. All of RAFI-USA’s programs develop annual equity goals and report on those quarterly to the Board of Directors. Our Board is majority people of color recruited because of their knowledge and background.

RAFI-USA was able to quickly and effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic because of the relationships and networks we have built and our deep base of knowledge of food and agriculture issues. As the pandemic disrupted farmers' sales and local food supply chains, RAFI-USA’s 15 staff members quickly pivoted to begin moving emergency resources to small farmers, as well as grants to churches/rural hunger relief programs and farmers markets in our networks to purchase more food from local, under-resourced farmers.

Accomplished:
- In 2019, awarded 26 cost-share grants to innovative farmer-led projects in North Carolina.
- In 2019, our Farm Advocacy intensive cases saved $8,314,861 in farm assets.
- Our #StandWithFarmFamilies campaign on the USDA Undue Preference Rule generated more than 84,000 signatures on a Change.org petition, as well as 1,783 comments to USDA.
- Published the report, "When Diversity Isn’t Enough: Experiences of Board Members of Color at Agricultural and Environmental Nonprofits.”
- In 2020, awarded $130,500 in Farmers of Color infrastructure grants to 27 farmers in NC, SC & VA; 66% Black, 11% Indigenous, 11% Latinx, 7% Gullah-Geechee, 4% Asian.
- As COVID-19 response, awarded $500 emergency grants to 138 farmers in NC and 71 farmers in VA, SC, FL, and the US Virgin Islands.
- As COVID-19 response, awarded grants to 69 church and community-based hunger relief groups purchasing food from local farmers.
- In 2020, expanded the Double Bucks Incentive Program to add 6 more NC Triangle-area farmers markets significantly increasing incentives to SNAP, WIC, and WIC FMNP and Section 8 Housing clients.
- In 2020, promoted various Action Alerts to federal and state decision-makers; 3,021 people took 11,106 actions.
- Sold 2,666 bushels of regionally adapted varieties of organic soybeans to farmers in the Southeast.

Not accomplished yet:
Found funding to award infrastructure grants to the 50 farmers of color who applied in the first round but for which we did not have the funds.

What's next:
In 2021, we are looking at the very real possibility of large-scale farm loss. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, many farms were heavily debt leveraged and are now fully leveraged or voluntarily liquidating assets. RAFI-USA’s Farm Advocates are assisting these small and mid-size farmers through government programs and negotiations with lenders. During the pandemic, many farmer cases are being carried only so far and then put on administrative hold. Once this moratorium is lifted, we anticipate a great deal of work helping farmers retain assets and hold on to their farms.

We will continue to advocate strongly for under-resourced farmers, agriculture workers, and robust local/regional agriculture in state and federal policies and fight against the corporate dominance in federal programs. We will continue to work to change the public narrative that blames farmers for food supply shortages during the pandemic rather than the true culprits, corporate agriculture.

We will continue helping farmers, farmers markets, and rural communities adapt to on-going changes in food supply chains due to COVID-19 and build more mutually beneficial partnerships between local farmers and consumers. We’ll award the second round of FOCN infrastructure grants, add more rural farmers markets to our existing SNAP incentive programs, host the Come to the Table conference postponed during COVID-19, and harvest the 2020 planting of two NC eco-type wildflowers for seed for sale.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    In our Expanding Farmers Market Access project, after receiving feedback that there was some confusion about how one of the types of incentives could be applied, we created more flexibility for how each type of market could provide this incentive to customers. This resulted in more of the Fresh Bucks markets - and their customers - using this incentive and thus more low-access people were able to purchase fresh foods and farmers increased their incomes.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback,

Financials

Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA

Board of directors
as of 8/25/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Jerry DeWitt

Professor Emeritus, Iowa State University

Term: 2020 - 2023

Archie Hart

NC Department of Agriculture

Kelli Dale

RAFI-USA

Shirley Sherrod

Southwest Georgia Project

Phillip Farland

USDA Farm Service Agency, retired

Jerry DeWitt

Retired

Elijah Brunson

Rachel Carson Council

Lariza Garzon

Episcopal Farmworker Ministry

Beverly Bowen

Blackwell’s Farm

Ben Miller

Reedy Fork Organic Farm

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/08/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/07/2020

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.