Monday, March 28, 2011

Missouri Factory Farm Alert - Stop the Factory Farm Protection Bills

HildeSomething really important is happening in Missouri.

Farm Aid's partner organization, the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, has alerted us to a series of controversial state bills that seek to protect a few factory farms at the expense of countless family farmers and rural landowners. These reckless bills are moving quickly through the Missouri statehouse and, if passed, would have a radical and damaging effect on the property rights of Missouri's citizens.

Senate Bill 187 & House Bill 209 – written to protect Premium Standard Farms (owned by Smithfield Foods, the largest pork corporation in the world) – have passed their respective chambers and differences between the bills are now being resolved. These misguided and dangerous bills would limit the constitutional rights of family farmers and landowners to use the court system to defend their property values against factory farm pollution.

Furthermore, three additional measures are being considered in the House – House Bill 100, House Joint Resolution 3 & House Joint Resolution 17. These would restrict the ability of local elected representatives to respond to the needs of their citizens through “local control” over what kind of livestock development occurs in their communities.

Out of Missouri's 100,000+ farming operations, less than one-percent are regulated as factory farms, but their ability to pollute is enormous. These bills are a deceitful attempt to hurt the majority of Missouri's independent family farms in order to benefit just a few corporate, factory farms.

Hundreds of phone calls and emails are making a difference, but the bills are still moving through the statehouse and need to be stopped. If you live in Missouri, please call state legislators TODAY. Tell them to stand up for family farmers, not factory farms: Vote NO on Senate Bill 187, House Bill 209, House Bill 100, House Joint Resolution 3 and House Joint Resolution 17.

  • You can call your State Representative by calling the House Switchboard at (573) 751-2000 with your zip code. Find your State Senator's number by visiting this page.

  • Also, please contact Governor Nixon by calling (573) 751-3222 or send an email by visiting this page. Tell him to veto any bill (including SB 187, HB 209, HJR 3, HJR 17 & HB 100) that limits the rights of family farmers and rural landowners to protect their property through the court system or restricts the ability of local elected representatives to respond to the needs of their citizens through local control.

If you don't live in Missouri, please forward this post to any friends and family you know there.

Thank you for taking the time to stand up for Missouri's family farmers. We're glad to be about to count on you to take action for family farmers where you live.

Farm Aid Music Monday, Starring Neil Young

MattAnother Monday brings another new video from the Farm Aid archives and our YouTube channel. (See last week's post for a short explanation and a video of Bob Dylan performing at the first Farm Aid with Willie Nelson and Tom Petty.)

Today's video features Neil Young from Farm Aid II, which took place on July 4, 1986 in Manor, Texas (just outside Austin). Last night at the Junos (Canada's music awards ceremony, similar to the Grammys), Neil was honored with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for his work with Farm Aid and The Bridge School. Check out "Comes A Time" below:

For more Farm Aid videos, visit our YouTube channel. And congratulations again, Neil!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sustainability on Campus

KaylaTwo years ago I made one of the biggest decisions of my life, to attend Northeastern University. After officially becoming a Husky in the class of 2013, I thought the stressful decision-making process was over. Little did I know, it was only the very beginning. Entering my freshman year I was unsure and indecisive about what I wanted to study, a decision I thought would outline the rest of my life. Although I didn't have a career plan or a set path to follow, the one thing I have always known is my passion for sustainability and desire to better the environment. I explored the different fields of sustainability and going "green" through my coursework. What really captivated me was the film King Corn, a documentary about two young men from Boston who move to Iowa and plant an acre of corn. The film reveals many controversies and issues surrounding our food and agriculture system, and I began to pursue ways to get involved with my own food system.

Right on my own campus, passionate and dedicated students and organizations have initiated healthy and eco-friendly programs and sustainable food initiatives. Take a look and see what committed students are doing at Northeastern University:

The Husky Energy Action Team (HEAT), a group I am actively involved in acknowledging the effects our food and eating have on our environment. Three years ago, we initiated composting in every dining hall on campus and the program has continued to grow as a result of the positive reaction from the student body. As new faces arrive each semester, HEAT members and volunteers actively engage in "peer composting" and educating people on the importance of sustainability. HEAT members also purchased a garden plot in the Fens, a neighboring park, and each year they grow fresh produce for anyone interested in getting involved. This February, HEAT live streamed the TEDx convention, Changing the Way We Eat, to members and other students. The reception screening was overwhelmingly positive and almost everyone brought a home-cooked, healthy dish to share. You can find recipes from HEAT's event in this PDF.

Along with HEAT, there have been many other steps taken by other student groups and activists on campus. Northeastern University Vegetarians United (NUVU) lobbied for more vegan and vegetarian options available in the dining halls. On a larger scale, the Student Government Association (SGA) has been working on bringing a farmers market to campus for the past year. The market will feature local vendors with a variety of produce and run weekly throughout the months of June-November. The market is expected to begin this June and will be a very exciting and unique opportunity for members of the Northeastern community.

Students have made major improvements by showcasing the desire of the student body to be part of a greener campus, which has allowed for very positive change. Due to dedication of students and the community, Dining Services has made sustainability one of their main priorities. They have formed a partnership with Northeast Family Farms and put a lot of emphasis on buying and serving local produce as much as possible. All dining halls now serve pasture-raised ground beef, cage free eggs, reduced antibiotic meats, rBST free milk and fair trade bananas, coffee and tea. Northeastern's Dining Services also earned an "A" for food and recycling on The College Sustainability Report Card and is listed as a Campus Sustainability Leader. The newest dining hall on campus has been LEED Certified as a 3-Star Green Restaurant.

I am proud of my decision to be part of an active and sustainable campus that has created a model to build upon for not only other colleges, but other communities. Thanks to student demand, we have reduced our carbon footprint and become a more environmentally conscious campus. When students initiated composting, dining services began purchasing compostable disposables. When students wanted healthy and fresh produce, Northeastern's dining halls began serving an average of 125,000 pounds of local food annually.

If members are passionate for change and come together to create a demand for food sustainability in their communities, I believe it will happen. I have seen it on my campus and I watch it improve each and every semester. I hope the students and faculty at Northeastern are inspirations for sustainable food movements because their hard work has truly paid off.

Stay tuned next week for an update on Northeastern's newest addition, Slow Food NU, to hear about their mission on campus and upcoming events!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Farm Aid Music Monday, Starring Bob Dylan

MattRecently, I've spent a few afternoons digging through the Farm Aid archives to share video memories from past Farm Aid concerts on our YouTube channel. Since I think we could all use a pick-me-up on Mondays, each week, we'll highlight one of those videos on our blog.

Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Kenny Chesney, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Tom Petty, and Steven Tyler. What do all these artists have in common? They, and dozens more, have collaborated on-stage with Farm Aid Co-Founder and President Willie Nelson during Farm Aid concerts over the years. Today, we bring you "Maggie's Farm" sung by Bob Dylan with backup on guitar by both Tom Petty and Willie Nelson.

For more Farm Aid videos, visit our YouTube channel.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Introducing Farmer Hero Fridays

MattAs part of our mission to keep family farmers on their land, we speak with farmers every day at 1-800-FARM-AID. Each month, our newsletter highlights one specific Farmer Hero
to discuss the issues that they're facing and hear what's happening on their farm. We'd like to share some of these stories here on our blog, so over the coming months on a couple Fridays every month, we'll be pointing to Farmer Heroes from the archives.

David Marvel

The first Farmer Hero we'd like to introduce you to is David Marvel Jr. from Harrington, Delaware.

David Marvel Jr.'s family has been in the business of farming for many years — since 1650, to be exact. In just the last generation, however, the Marvels have witnessed a major transition toward an increasingly industrial agricultural system in which farms are forced to get bigger just to keep up. "I don't blame farmers for this shift," David explains, "I blame our country for letting agriculture get this way."

David fully recognizes the struggle for family farmers to stay afloat under current conditions, especially for mid-sized farms that are being left out of the economies of scale of large production agriculture and the burgeoning direct markets of small-scale, niche production. With farm to school programs, however, David and other small to mid-sized family farmers are finding a viable solution.
Click here to read the rest of David's story.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Run Riki Run!

KariWhen you think of athletes competing March 20th in the Los Angeles Marathon, Riki Rachtman may not be the first person that comes to mind.

One of the most popular VJs on MTV for more than 5 years, Riki is also a highly rated talk radio host and a respected NASCAR reporter, in addition to hosting several VH1 reality shows, serving as a “Rock of Love: Charm School” dean and starring in the TV show “Daisy of Love.” But to run 26.2 miles through the streets of Los Angeles is not what you would expect from the tattooed rocker. However that’s the plan, and in addition Riki will be raising money and awareness for America’s family farmers through Farm Aid.

“I chose to run for Farm Aid for several reasons,” says Riki. “I wanted to give back to America. I may be a city boy but have always been aware of the challenges of the U.S. farmer. I am very much against factory farming, especially when it deals with cruelty to animals. Farm Aid stands up for the families that have spent generations making sure we have healthy food. When farmers come across some very hard times, Farm Aid is there.”

Riki’s goal is a lofty one. His goals are not only to conquer the 26.2 mile course, but also to raise $10,000 for Farm Aid. “I have been going about it very grassroots,” says Riki, who has been getting the word out through his Twitter account.

Follow Riki on Twitter @RikiRachtman to find out how you can support his marathon goal and Farm Aid! Thanks for running for Farm Aid, Riki -- good luck on March 20!