Friday, November 07, 2008

Willie Nelson's Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

Willie Nelson and Barack Obama at Farm Aid 2005 in Illinois. Photo credit: Rick Diamond/Wire Image

Farm Aid President Willie Nelson sent an open letter to President-elect Barack Obama today, congratulating him on his victory and offering Farm Aid as a resource for a new farm and food policy that supports a sustainable, family farm system of agriculture.
Dear President-elect Barack Obama,

As President of Farm Aid, I'd like to take this opportunity to whole-heartedly congratulate you on your historic victory. I'd also like to offer you every resource that Farm Aid has available to assist you in creating a new farm and food policy that supports a sustainable family farm system of agriculture.

I started Farm Aid in 1985 when family farmers were being forced off their land as a result of federal policy that paved the way for industrial agriculture. This shift replaced independent family farmers with factory farms that have wreaked havoc on our communities, our environment and our public health.

There is broad agreement that our farm and food system needs to be drastically reworked...
Click here to read the rest of Willie's letter to President-elect Obama.


  1. With the same goal in mind, I have begun a petition to have Michael Pollan appointed to the Office of Secretary Of Agriculture. Please visit the link below, sing and pass along to everyone you know. We can take America back!!!

  2. Anonymous12:02 AM

    I haven't see what the definition of a family farm is but I know I grew up on one. My great grandfather put one together with the help of his sons. He grew a family of 8 and provided jobs, food and wealth for a very small economy with it. My grandfather met his goal of earning a million dollars on this family farm and he did it with and without the help of government. Sometimes a foolishly thought about subsidy would benefit him and sometimes it worked against him. The point is that HE made it work in spite of government. My father worked in a factory and supported my grandfather's endeavor. He took over the farm when my grandfather was no longer able, a very sad period. My father's loyalty in sticking to this family farming task that he found neither enjoyable or profitable was admirable. I worry that people who read this might see the million dollar number and think my grandfather was some kind of rich... and thus had an obligation to share his wealth through taxation (which he did and sometimes doubly so). I worry about this because during the Clinton era our family farm was taxed to near extinction. I think people don't realize that having land doesn't equal a million in the bank. It equals very expensive tractors, parts, fencing, sowing, and loss out the wazoo many years. It equals and requires labor that can be devastating to the human mind and spirit. I think family farming is often painted with a romantic brush when it is actually grueling work that can and often does require hours and hours on top of a regular work week. I also know the joy that is picking horn worms from your tomato vines in the early morning hours. I know the exhilaration a farmer feels when all the forces of nature come together to bring a bumper crop, or set you up to pick the sweetest watermelon or see the perfect calf come from a bull you hand selected to put with your heifers. The government now considers our farm a hobby farm and my brother works at the local electric cooperative to support it. He is currently farming a small heard of cattle and pine trees. I can't really tell the Bush administration was all that effective of an advocate for family farms. The Bush administration did reverse the death tax which was an additional taxation on income where taxes had already been assessed, an unfair situation by most standards. Clinton badly hurt family farms from our own family farming experience under his administration. I hear people talking of HOPE. I hear, "...reversing tax cuts for the most wealthy." I'm scared. Wealth or the appearance of wealth can be a tricky thing. When I hear tax cuts for people making this amount or that amount, I wonder if there is real understanding of wealth and the family farm. Like I said when I started, I'm unsure of THE definition of a family farm, government has defined ours in a lot of bizarre ways over the years. I caution people not to rest too long in the bosom of hope and to pay careful attention to living in the feel good moments too long. If anything, family farmers should be following the lessons of nature, prepare, save and live in the future. Sun will surely be followed by rain.