We know there are many important conversations happening today—about health, the environment, the economy, energy and more—that are missing a critical stakeholder: the family farmer. We also know that it's no small feat to leave the farm to be a part of these conversations (or to even know what's going on, when and where!).
At Farm Aid we are committed to connecting farmers to leadership training events, conferences, farmer fly-ins, strategy meetings or other opportunities that allow farmers to engage citizens, advocates or policymakers in addressing the critical needs of family farmers and strengthening opportunities for family farm agriculture and the Good Food Movement. We have many challenges ahead of us as a nation; we can't face any of them head-on without the ingenuity, innovation and expertise of America's family farmers at the table.
In May, Farm Aid partnered with Organic Farming Research Foundation to support the travel of Rachel Weiner to attend the Organic Trade Association (OTA) Hill Days in Washington, D.C. Rachel and her partner manage two small farms in Eugene, Oregon, growing apples and other tree fruits, berries and vegetables.
Here's what she had to say about the experience:
At the OTA Hill Days, I was a tiny droplet in the larger sea of the Organic Industry. This industry is primarily made up of food processors, retailers and certifiers. As a farmer, I was in the minority. As a small, first-generation farmer I was almost alone.
While in D.C., Rachel was able to connect with the staff of several of her legislators, most of whom were interested in her story and perspective:
These policy makers operate in a world very separate from my own here in Oregon. This visit was a good reminder of the need for voices like mine to be heard by those who wield the power of legislation. I hope to continue to add my voice to the work currently being done in Oregon by organizations like Friends of Family Farmers.
Thank you, Rachel, for lending your voice, and demonstrating just how important it is to do so. If you are a farmer interested in getting more involved in advocacy, please let us know. With more than 500 partners in our Farmer Resource Network (including Friends of Family Farmers and OFRF!), we have many resources at our fingertips and ideas for how to become a key part of the conversation.