My grandpa had cattle, corn, wheat, and an occasional pig. My grandma took care of chickens and an amazing garden for their family of four boys. Four boys is pretty much hitting the family farm lottery. Their stories of working on the farm still induce tears of laughter at every family gathering.
Growing up, I didn't realize how razor-thin the margins were for my family in farming. I only witnessed hard work and determination. I didn't hear any of the worries my grandpa had, and didn't understand that most people don't work for 12 hours... on a good day. Working at Farm Aid, I've come to understand the challenges many farmers face in a system that is stacked against them.
The work that family farmers do for all of us is why I am so proud to work at Farm Aid. I feel a roller coaster of emotions every year at the concert — the warmth of familiar faces after my seven years here, anger at injustices in our agricultural system and finally, hope when I look around and see 20,000 people who want the same thing as me — to see family farmers given a fair shake. We want better food. We want to celebrate together. As Farm Aid enters our 30th year, Willie, John, Neil, and Dave are refusing to give up. So I won't either.
Those farmers at the concert every fall — I may not know all of them personally, but I know what they represent. I know that back in their hometown those farmers are the reason the post office is open, and why the school hasn't consolidated yet. They're keeping their local bank in business and running for the school board and the town council. Those farmers are there for their neighbors before the request for help is ever made.
The small town we visit for Christmas is unique. You can find its culture and unspoken sense of 'home' all over the country though. As we leave my grandma's house and wave good-bye, I still have hope that these towns won't ever be just a memory for us. When I hear 20,000 people sing together each fall, I know that we share those memories and have a common bond.
Will you join me in making a gift to honor a farmer in your family? Or will you make a donation in appreciation for the farmer who grows food for you and the ones you love? Farmers do so much for us. Let's do all we can to ensure a bright future for family farmers.