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About Us

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Family farmers are the heart of RAFI's work. RAFI fights alongside farmers for fairness and justice in agriculture. We assist family farmers in crisis, and support farmers' innovative ideas for new farm enterprises. We expand opportunities for sustainable and fair farms and markets. We educate people about the challenges facing these farms and rural communities. We base our work in North Carolina and the Southeast, but also work nationally and internationally. RAFI was founded in 1990 and can trace its roots back to the 1920's.


The Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA cultivates markets, policies and communities that support thriving, socially just and environmentally sound family farms.


RAFI-USA traces its heritage to the National Sharecroppers' Fund, which was founded in the 1930's and led by Dr. Frank Porter Graham, Eleanor Roosevelt, and other distinguished Americans. Our small but seasoned staff has been together for more than a decade. RAFI-USA's programs address the trends and changes in agriculture that affect us from the local to the global levels. Working with a variety of farm, community, university and government groups, RAFI - USA promotes sustainability, equity and diversity in agriculture through policy changes, practical assistance, market opportunities, and access to financial and technical resources.


Farm Sustainability assists farmers and communities facing rapidly changing markets to adapt with sustainable solutions. RAFI’s farm advocates annually provide approximately 90 farm families with skilled farm planning and financial counseling, assistance negotiating with lenders, and referrals to legal and mental health services. Our direct services typically result in over $3 million in family assets gained or saved each year. RAFI also analyzes and reports on federal farm risk management programs and provides farmers updates and technical assistance on federal crop insurance and disaster programs. In addition, this program works with people of faith in North Carolina to start community-based projects that relieve hunger and support local farms.

Tobacco Communities and Agricultural Enterprise Development is a resource for farmers and communities seeking to survive the rapid changes in tobacco markets. Through the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, RAFI provides technical and cost-share support to innovative producers and communities that demonstrate market-worthy ways for family farmers to replace lost tobacco income. Between 2003 and 2007, RAFI assisted 87 new agricultural enterprises, retained and created 747 jobs, and leveraged $2.5 million in new investment. These enterprises are now generating close to $4 million annually in farm income.

Just Foods creates market opportunities that provide a fair price for farmers implementing just and sustainable production practices. RAFI was a pivotal leader in the development of a national organic standard. Organic is now the fastest growing segment in agriculture, sustaining over 20,000 U.S. farms and generating almost $2 billion in farm sales. RAFI is also developing a domestic fair trade standard. That standard is being market tested in the Upper Midwest region. So far farmers report leveraging the local fair trade certification to increase sales and attract new customers and farmworkers are reporting improved working conditions and higher wages. We are revitalizing public plant and animal breeding programs to ensure that farmers have access to varieties adapted to the changing regional climates.

Contract Agriculture Reform – This program promotes just and equitable economic relationships between individual contract farmers and processors. The program educates farmers on risks and benefits associated with contract agriculture and on federal fair contract rules and regulations. In response to the contract rule changes within the 2008 Farm Bill, RAFI updated over 14,000 poultry, cattle and pork producers through published fact sheets and written materials, and conducted trainings for over 450 farmers in four states.


Some of RAFI’s recent accomplishments include:

Reinvestment Fund projects have generated $2.2 million in additional investment, created 55 new jobs, and sustained 563 existing jobs. These impacts multiply through our outreach programs, which have enabled Tobacco Communities participants to share their knowledge and experience with over 5,000 other farmers and community members.

Over the past 11 years, RAFI farm advocates have provided direct assistance to rural farm families in financial crisis, helping them to save or gain more than $42 million in loans, disaster payments and debt forgiveness. Of those served, 90% reported success in reaching their financial goals.

The Peanut Project, our model on-farm research project, reduced costs by $100/acre, maintained yields, and reduced pesticide use by 208,000 pounds on 18,000 acres.

RAFI helps farmers navigate the bureaucratic maze of federal disaster programs. We draw on that extensive experience to train and support a broad spectrum of agricultural professionals and community volunteers. For example, in 2004 we conducted disaster preparedness trainings for extension agents from 49 counties, two banks, NCDA, NRCS, and FSA.

RAFI is a leader in developing identity-preserved and value-added food-labeling programs that provide premiums for farmers while ensuring consumer confidence, including organics which have grown into a $14 billion industry.

Over the past 11 years, RAFI farm advocates have provided direct assistance to rural farm families in financial crisis, helping them to save or gain more than $42 million in loans, disaster payments and debt forgiveness. Of those served, 90% reported success in reaching their financial goals.


Linda Shaw is a recognized leader in rural economic development with over 20 years experience in community and organizational development. Raised on a farm in the Piedmont of North Carolina, Shaw has pursued a professional career that reflects RAFI's core values of equity, justice and sustainability. She has extensive understanding of rural economies and a history of building diverse partnerships and creating positive change. Shaw is a former Senior Community Development Officer with Wachovia Bank and the first Executive Director of the North Carolina Low Income Housing Coalition, where she led for 11 years. Her other professional experience includes advocacy and education with legal services programs in North Carolina and Kentucky, as well as research and evaluation of rural economic development programs at MDC, Inc.


Kathryn Waller, President, former executive director, Rural Advancement Fund/ National Sharecroppers Fund, Savannah, GA

Archie Hart, Vice President, Special Assistant to the NC Commissioner of Agriculture, Knightdale, NC

Alton Thompson, Interim Provost/Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs NC A&T State University, Summerfield, NC

Floyd B. McKissick, Jr., Treasurer, NC State Senator/attorney at law, Durham, NC

Mary Clouse, farmer and retired RAFI-USA program director, Moncure, NC

Alex Hitt, farmer, Graham, NC

Daniel Pollitt, Kenan Professor of Law Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Randi Ilyse Roth, attorney at law, St. Paul, MN

Tom Trantham, farmer, Pelzer, SC

Helen Vinton, rural development specialist, Southern Mutual Help Association, New Iberia, LA


United States


Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming


PO Box 640
Pittsboro, NC 27312-0640
Phone: (919) 542-1396
EIN: 56-1704863

A Gift Card


Foster Innovation

Business plan training

This gift will provide 15 minutes of business planning assistance to a limited-resource farmer embarking on a nontraditional enterprise. It will bring new jobs to rural communities, keep families on their family farms, grow local and organic food, and enable farm entrepreneurs to lead the way into the future. Our advisers provide workshops and on-on-one assistance on developing cash flow analysis, income projections, and other...


Certify Justice

One AJP audit

This gift will enable one farm or other food business to be certified under Agricultural Justice Project standards. It brings fair, local, organic food to market and improves conditions for farmers and workers. The AJP's standards ensure fair working conditions and wages for people in every part of organic food production, from farmers and farm workers to retail employees. AJP provides marketplace rewards for family...


Plant New Crops

Row of research crops

This gift will plant one row of research crops on an organic farm. This row will be part of project to develop seed varieties that grow best on organic farms, and that are owned by the public, not corporations. The research project will be led by a coalition of organic farmers, plant breeders, extension agents and researchers. This project will focus on varieties of soybeans,...


Guard Farmer Rights

One farmer meeting

Your gift enables farmers to learn about new federal laws that protect them from fraud and unfair business practices. These rights can make a crucial difference to farm families, but they are buried in obscure regulations. For instance, farmers no longer have to sign away their right to take a company to court when they sign a contract. In the past, most contracts required that...


Grow Food and Faith

Five guidebooks

This gift sends five copies of "Come to the Table: How People of Faith Can Relieve Hunger and Support Local Farms in North Carolina" to a church or other faith community. Houses of faith can build projects that bring local food to families in need, supporting local farms and feeding the hungry. Already, churches have used this guidebook to start community gardens, hold local-food dinners,...


Give Hope

One advocate visit

With this gift, you give family farmers in trouble the hope and support they need to survive and thrive after a crisis. Our farm advocates have decades of experience. They provide confidential support, business planning advice, and financial counseling. They advocate for farmers during visits with lenders and arbitrators. Independent family farmers work hard to build their communities, tend the land, care for their families...