Guest post by Will Valverde.
The first performers won't be hitting the stage for a little while yet, but we've already gotten a taste of what's in store for us here at Farm Aid 2009. During a press event this morning, we heard personal stories from family farmers about the struggles they face, a renewed commitment from Farm Aid Executive Director Carylon Mugar to continue to fight for small farmers, and real passion from Farm Aid board members Neil Young, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson.
Joining the performers this morning was Jason, a 23 year old, 3rd generation dairy farmer from Northeastern Iowa. He talked about the difficult struggle of continuing his family's tradition of dairy farming in a changing environment -- how hard it is for a young farmer competing against huge agribusiness corporations. He's succeeding with support from farming cooperatives, consumers and groups like Farm Aid -- and thanks to a simple belief in what he's doing: "Let's graze the cows outside, that's where they belong -- they don't belong in a shed, on concrete."
Jason explained how consumers like you and me can make a huge difference for family farmers like him. It starts with what you put in your refrigerator, and making a conscious choice to support local farmers using safe, sustainable organic practices. That's part of what Farm Aid is here for, to educate consumers about the huge impact simple choices can make.
Just as important, we need to make sure our government supports family farmers, not factory farms. With dairy farmers facing a crisis as bad as they've ever seen, it's never been more important for you and me to speak out. Click here to sign Farm Aid's petition to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack before it's too late for family dairy farmers like Jason.
We heard inspirational words from performers, farmers, activists, and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan this morning, but I think John Mellencamp put it best: "It all comes down to what kind of country we want to be and what kind of individuals we want to be. If we want a better world, it begins with each and every one of us."
Are you ready to make your choice? Take action now to save dairy farmers.