Public Policy Engagement

Public policy has a hand in driving outcomes in every aspect of agriculture and food system issues where philanthropy engages – access to healthy foods, small farm viability, local and regional food systems, rural community development, environmental toxins, safe workplaces, food sovereignty,  fundamental rights to self-determination, and more.

Additionally, structural inequities within our agriculture and food system result in disproportionately negative impacts on specific people and communities – low-income, rural, and people of color. Such outcomes are not accidental – they have been driven by public policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Philanthropic investment and engagement in public policy development and advocacy are critical to shifting that dynamic, and indeed, has catalyzed much of the progress made in recent years on sustainable agriculture and food systems.

SAFSF works to engage the full capacity of philanthropy in public policy. Our policy programming helps funders policy skills and knowledge while fostering collaborative action and building relationships with policymakers at the federal and state levels around areas of interest.

SAFSF 2023 Farm Bill Principles

Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders (SAFSF) is the leading national network for philanthropic grantmakers and mission-based investors working in support of just and sustainable food and agriculture systems. Our members include community and corporate foundations, private foundations, health conversion foundations, investment organizations, individual donors and investors, and more. SAFSF members make investments at local, regional, state, Tribal, national, and international levels to support activities and strategies related to justice, farms and farming systems, environmental sustainability, markets, health, agricultural products, and much more within the food system.  

The farm bill, which is set to be reauthorized in 2023, is the most significant piece of legislation Congress enacts (roughly every 5 years) that has a direct impact on farming livelihoods, how food is produced, what kinds of foods are grown, and how economically distressed families eat. The 2018 Farm Bill includes twelve titles that cover commodity crops support, conservation of natural resources, nutrition, access to credit, rural communities, research and education, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance, and beginning and historically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, among other things. The breadth and scope of the farm bill likely touches more American lives than any other legislation.   

We believe federal policy should support just and sustainable agriculture, food and fiber systems, in which it is possible for all people to equitably participate in and benefit from these economies. The following principles must be applied to the farm bill in order to make progress toward this goal.


2022 SAFSF Policy Convening:

Commit to Action

The 2022 SAFSF Policy Convening: Commit to Action will bring funders together in Washington DC to build shared understanding, and mobilize a commitment to action to drive equitable federal agriculture and food policy change in the farm bill. Together we will explore three high-impact fundable strategies: geographic power and base building; narrative shift; and policy strategy. In addition, we will work together to conduct Congressional and USDA meetings for those who are interested. 

This convening will challenge participants to coordinate their 2022-2023 funding to leverage policy change that drives us towards resilient, sustainable, and equitable food systems—while at the same time, providing the opportunity to build strategic partnerships so that no one organization is going it alone.

FORA & SAFSF Webinar Series

Webinar 3: Playing to Win: How to Engage Both C3 and C4 Strategies | October 19, 2021

A key barrier to advancing transformational reform in our food and ag systems has been a lack of awareness about what private foundations are allowed to do and fund under Internal Revenue Service guidelines in regards to policy work. In this webinar, we will provide critical context and resources for funders to better understand ways to engage in policy work, both C3 and C4 strategies, as well as explore case studies of how different funders and peers have been able to employ these strategies to win. We know, from evidence, that when foundations invest in advancing policy change, their money has a large-scale impact on individuals and communities. Grants of any size, combined with targeted investments of time, effort, and collaboration at just the right moment, can yield investments in the hundreds of thousands or hundreds of millions of dollars.


  • Abby Levine, Director, Bolder Advocacy, Alliance for Justice
  • Jenny O’Connor, Executive Director,FORA (Moderator)

Webinar 2: Pathways for Engagement: A Deeper Look at Key Policy Strategies and Opportunities | September 14, 2021

Building off of webinar 1 and our current understanding of the state of agricultural policy in the U.S., we will dive deeper into the opportunities to secure progressive food and ag policies at both the state and national levels. In addition to highlighting some of the key strategies identified, we will hear from experts and organizations who are leading these key strategies forward across the US. We will discuss topics such as how to connect critical state level policy work and organizations with the broader national policy work and conversations, as we move towards the next two farm bills, as well as what we will need to do to mobilize leaders and community organizations in the south and other key states.


  • Jahi Chappell, Executive Director, Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network
  • Amalie Lipstreu,Policy Director, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
  • Ricardo Salvador,Director and Senior Scientist of the Food and Environment Program
  • Amy Saltzman, Program Officer, Walton Family Foundation (Moderator)

Webinar 1: US Food and Agriculture Policy: A Pivotal Moment For Action | July 13, 2021

In this first webinar of a 3-part series, we will lay the groundwork for the current political context and implications for food and ag policymaking. The next 18 months are going to be critical for driving progressive policy change – it’s now or never. We will cover the American Jobs Plan and how this is our window of opportunity to deliver more funding for the 2023 Farm Bill to support regenerative agriculture initiatives, as well as other critical policy priorities, such as reparative policies that aim to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who have been on the frontlines of the fights for food sovereignty, racial justice, climate justice, food security, worker justice, land justice, and environmental justice. Our goal with this webinar is to not only inform but to provide funders across the food and ag sector with both the context and the pathways for engaging in this critical moment, including the opportunities to partner with key policy advocacy groups who need our support in the coming months.


  • Colby Duren, Director of Policy and Government Relations for the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC)
  • Vanessa García Polanco, Interim Policy Director, National Young Farmers Coalition
  • Sarah Hackney, Coalition Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
  • Traci Bruckner, Public Policy Director, SAFSF (Moderator)

2020 Policy Convening Report

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders community engaged in a new and compelling way during the 2020 Policy Outlook and Funder Strategy Conference. There has never been a more important time to come together. Federal policy, and the farm bill in particular, has an outsized impact on our agriculture and food system. We know we are stronger when we are in this together and we are grateful for your commitment to reimagine how we might inspire federal policy advocacy to build a just and sustainable agriculture and food system.
We hope this policy convening served to strengthen your connections, foster collaboration on federal policy, and build capacity for our policy work. You gave your time, energy, and best ideas at the convening—they are all documented in this report for our collective use.

The report is available for SAFSF members and participants of the 2020 Policy Outlook and Funder Conference. SAFSF members may download the report by using the button below, you will be redirected to login into your member portal.

Success Stories From the Field

Download our latest publication showing how small farmers, farmers’ markets, distributors, small businesses and philanthropy collaborated and engaged through federal and state programs to support food access and food security, to mitigate climate change, and to invest local economies, either in response to the pandemic or in preparation for the resilience which we know will be needed to weather future crises.

COVID-19 Policy Resources

COVID-19 Advocacy

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SAFSF Policy Committee

If you have any questions about SAFSF’s policy work or would like to deepen your involvement in our policy programming, please reach out to SAFSF Public Policy Director Traci Bruckner – [email protected].