Friday, December 20, 2013

"If we lose them, we lose the future..."

jenFarm Aid measures our impact in numbers — the number of dollars granted, of farmers helped, of awareness raised. But what I find most inspiring are the stories of the real farmers who we talk to every day. I want to share a few of their stories with you.

We received a call on the Farm Aid hotline from Tom, a college student in the Midwest. As graduation approaches he's realized he longs to get back to the farm. Tom said, "I'm not some young guy who just has a romantic view of farm life. I know it's hard work, but that's what I like about it. This is my life's passion. I want to raise my future family on a farm. What tools do you have to help me get started?"

Justine, a New York farmer who went to her first Farm Aid concert this year told us, "I have never felt so well treated as a farmer — ever! The work you are doing is so very important. Thank you for the opportunity you gave to me — it is inspiring."

When a farmer in crisis called our hotline, we connected her to Cissy, a dedicated farm advocate who helped this farmer find reasons to keep going when she had lost her faith. Cissy told us, "Over and over I hear from folks who have called you guys, and the main thing — the first thing — they say is, 'Someone actually answered the phone and listened!' Farm Aid plants the seeds of hope in folks who are ready to give up. We can't always fix every problem, but just knowing someone cares is a huge part of the battle."

And when disaster struck in South Dakota and tens of thousands of cattle were lost in a freak early blizzard, a rancher brought me to tears with his generosity and concern for others. I had called Gary a few days after the blizzard to find out how he and his neighbors had fared. Though he was still missing seven cattle — a terrible loss in a normal year — he told me he was most concerned about his neighbors. He said, "Many ranchers lost nearly their whole herd. The young guys can't absorb this kind of loss because they're just starting out. If we lose them, we lose the future of ranching."

These stories represent the work we do each and every day here at Farm Aid.

Will you give a gift to Farm Aid today? With your help, we can give hope when all hope is lost, make farmers feel valued, and help new farmers find their home on the land.

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