Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two heroes of family farmers meet

JoelI’m pleased to report that two American icons got together recently in Oklahoma.

The first, Farm Aid president Willie Nelson, needs no introduction to the Farm Aid faithful. But who’s that with him in this photo

That’s Mona Lee Brock, longtime farm advocate in Oklahoma, whose crisis and suicide intervention work with Oklahoma farmers for more than two decades has saved many farmers’ lives. Willie himself has said of her, “Mona Lee Brock has been the angel at the other end of the line, the person who Farm Aid has always relied on for the most desperate farmers.” Even today, though Mona Lee is “officially” retired, I still call her for advice or assistance when I field difficult farmer calls from Oklahoma on the Farm Aid hotline. And she is as willing as ever to help out in any way she can.

So, when Mona Lee called us last month to inquire about the possibility of getting tickets to see Willie’s show in her hometown of Durant, Oklahoma, well, we were happy to oblige. We knew Willie would be glad to make time for her and her friends after the show. Later, Mona Lee let me know that it was “the thrill of my lifetime” to visit with Willie backstage.

Mona Lee Brock is one of only a handful of deeply experienced farm advocates remaining from the early days of Farm Aid. There is no way to calculate the value of her experience, as she not only saved farms, but saved farmers’ lives.

As Farm Aid’s farm advocate in charge of our 1-800-FARM-AID and farmhelp@farmaid.org farmer hotline, I invite you to contact me at joel@farmaid.org to learn more about how you can help us develop the Farm Advocate Link, our ongoing project with RAFI-USA and many other partners to recruit, train and support a new generation of farm advocates. We need about 50 Mona Lee Brocks out there, angels at the other end of the line, to let farmers know how fundamentally valuable their work is for all of us and to help them not only to survive, but to thrive.

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