Friday, October 19, 2007

Farm Aid says Goodbye to Al Krebs

Family farmers lost a good friend and tireless advocate last week. Al Krebs, a close friend of Farm Aid since we began in 1985, died on Oct. 9 after a struggle with liver failure.

Around the country Al was well known for his book “The Corporate Reapers,” considered by many to be the authority on the history of farm policy and the rise of corporate agriculture. Over the past years, hundreds if not thousands received his weekly e-mail publication “Agribusiness Examiner,” which chronicled the abuses of “Big Ag” as well as the tenacious efforts of the grassroots to build a just food system. Here at Farm Aid, we read Al’s Ag-Biz Examiner every week to keep up to date on the latest news. Whenever we needed some facts checked on US farm policy, we frequently turned to Al.

While Al and I shared many interests related to farm and food issues, we also shared an insatiable love (some might say obsession) for baseball. When Farm Aid held its concert in the Seattle area in 2004, Al invited me and Jen to see his beloved Seattle Mariners play a home game at Safeco Field. Al’s encyclopedic mind on the history of US agriculture applied as well to baseball: During the game, Al rattled off baseball stats going back fifty years. Throughout the baseball season, we shared weekly notes about the ups and downs of my Red Sox and his Mariners, always hoping for a ALCS between the two. If it ever comes to pass Al, I know you will be cheering for your Mariners from the great grandstands in the sky!

Al was a giant in the family farm movement, and his shoes will never be filled. Yesterday, the Washington Post published Al’s obituary, which only begins to scratch the surface of Al’s tremendous love for life and his relentless commitment to social justice.

Goodbye Al – we will miss you!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:37 PM

    Al Krebs was a friend of mine, and if you care about where your food comes from, or our democracy, a friend of yours. Al connected the dots between economic and political democracy. He understood that our democracy depends on well educated and involved citizens' willingness to keep the anti-democratic concentrated power of corporations at bay. Too much economic power is not only bad economic policy, it runs counter to the Jeffersonian concept of widespread political power which included long time stakeholders like family farmers. No one person in America has done more to track corporate concentration in the food economy over a longer period of time than Al Krebs. He had the highest of journalistic and research standards, yet was an advocate for family farms and consumers. Through his research, we come to understand the illusion of choice when we go to the supermarket. Al showed me more than once the many different company labels that were all owed by the same parent company. I learned to never be in a hurry when I took Al along to go grocery shopping. We owe him more than we can ever hope to repay. Thank you Al Krebs for the power of positive example, which is the only real kind of leadership that ever works. Al Krebs showed us all how to be a citizen in our democracy.