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New Farm Program Options Guide
Making the Most of Freedom to Farm shows how to make planting flexibility pay.

10/01/97: White Bear Lake, Minn. -- The Land Stewardship Project today released Making the Most of Freedom to Farm: Innovative uses of Planting Flexibility and Conservation Programs. This 40-page guide reviews profitable, environmentally beneficial farming practices that are easier for farmers to adopt under new national farm legislation.

In 1996, Congress eliminated most of the planting rules that required farmers to plant certain crops in order to qualify for federal support payments. At the same time, the law, which its creators dubbed "Freedom to Farm," does away with federal protections against wide swings in market prices.

Making the Most of Freedom to Farm offers farmers an overview of innovative practices that were difficult to adopt under the old system of commodity payments -- beneficial crop rotations, integrated crop/livestock operations, innovative tillage practices, and other approaches -- and points toward recent sources of more in-depth information. It also includes sections on whole-farm planning approaches and a review of changes in federal agricultural conservation programs in the 1996 Farm Bill.

"Farmers have a great opportunity right now to look for an advantage, for the sort of integrated approaches that will make their farms profitable for the long haul. We can't make it just by copying what the big guys are doing on a smaller scale," said Dave Serfling, a Preston, Minn., farmer who raises hay, corn, and pastures hogs, beef and sheep. "As prices for the major commodities shake out a bit, I think more farmers will start to realize the solid, long term business advantages of diversity and more complex rotations."

The guide includes chapters on:
  • Managing for Total Farm Results
  • Making Sense of Federal Programs
  • Rotations and Cover Crops for Cost Control
  • New Livestock Ideas
  • Tillage Tactics

Each chapter includes real-life examples of farms and farmers who are already having success with these techniques and concludes with an extensive list of contact information, print sources, and Internet resources for more details on how to make these practices work on the farm.

Copies of Making the Most of Freedom to Farm are available from the Land Stewardship Project, 2200 4th St., White Bear Lake, MN 55110. Phone: (612) 653-0618. A postage/handling charge of $4.00 will apply to all mail requests. A web version of the chapter, Making Sense of Federal Programs is available online at Sustainable Farming Connection at:


Publication of this guide was made possible by a grant from the Joyce Foundation of Chicago, Ill.

For more information, contact: Source: News release from the Land Stewardship Project, a private, non-profit membership organization that works to foster an ethic of stewardship toward the land. LSP promotes sustainable communities and a system of agriculture that is environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially just.

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