Friday, April 25, 2014

Farm Aid Stands With Farmers and Ranchers Opposing Keystone XL Pipeline

JenThe Cowboy Indian Alliance, a partnership of farmers, ranchers and tribal communities, rode into Washington, D.C., on April 22 to call on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. Farm Aid signed on to the protest of the pipeline, which, if approved, would carry tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in Texas, cutting through family farms and ranches in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. The proposed route also crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow water resource that underlies eight states and supplies essential irrigation and drinking water to the Great Plains.

Farm Aid awarded Farmer Leadership Grants to offset travel costs for Nebraska farmers and ranchers attending the six-day Reject and Protect event in Washington, D.C.

In a statement, Farm Aid lent its support to the farmers and ranchers fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline:

“Family farmers and ranchers are stewards of the soil and water. These family farmers and ranchers are sacrificing precious time during planting season to protest the pipeline because they are stewards of the land. They work the land every day and they know its needs and vulnerabilities. They know the benefits the land brings to all of us when it is cared for and they know what’s at stake when it is not.

“At Farm Aid, we’ve heard directly from family farmers whose farms lie in the proposed path of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Many of these farms have been in the same family for generations. Now the Keystone XL Pipeline jeopardizes the health and viability of that land, rather than ensuring its health for future generations.

“The proposed path of the Keystone XL Pipeline could also have grave implications for the Ogallala Aquifer. This water source, which makes farming possible in the Great Plains, is too precious to risk damage by tar sands oil spills. Crops and livestock, farmer livelihoods, and communities that depend on the Ogallala for drinking water are all at stake.

“To take farmland from families who have cared for it for generations is not in the public’s interest. And during a time of persistent and chronic drought, putting the Great Plains’ most precious water source at risk is unconscionable.

“The United States needs a comprehensive energy policy that supports a diversity of homegrown energy alternatives that generate jobs, benefit rural communities and protect our precious environmental resources. Family farmers and ranchers are part of the solution and are integral to establishing America’s clean energy future.”

Members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance before their meeting with White House officials on Wednesday, April 24, 2014.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Win a $10,000 "Lift" for Your Farm!

JenI'm thrilled to be part of an exciting new opportunity for family farmers: the Mortgage Lifter project. Read on for a chance to win $10,000 for your farm.

In 2013, Beekman 1802 co-founders Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge had a big idea. For years they'd struggled to grow their farm business enough for Josh to leave his job in the city so they could both live happily ever after as full-time farmers.

So they decided to create a line of Pasta Sauces that would use a variety of tomato first bred in the 1930s with a funny, but appropriate name: "The Mortgage Lifter Tomato." (Find out how the Mortgage Lifter got its name.) If they could just sell enough jars, they could pay off their mortgage and Josh could move upstate permanently.

Then, through a lucky twist of fate, the pair won "The Amazing Race," a television reality competition. Finally able to pay off their own mortgage, they thought: "Hey, wouldn't it be great if other small farms could catch a similar break?'"

So they decided they'd pay forward 25% of the profits from their sauces to help promising small farms grow into medium-size farms. In 2013, they raised more than $13,000 for the project and now they're giving that money away to small farmers with big ideas.

Mortgage Lifter sauces are produced from quality, non-GMO whole ingredients sourced from both small American farms and also larger American farms. They are prepared by a family-owned co-packer with the scale to supply larger grocery chains. This combination of efforts results in sauces that taste as homemade as they are, but can be competitively priced to appear on a grocery store shelf.

But the best part is that 25% of the profits are then returned to small farms to help them grow larger.

Find out more specifics about who is eligible for Mortgage Lifter Lifts and apply today! It's easy, just tell your story. See if your local farmer has applied for a "lift," and if not let them know about it! There are four prizes, and the top prize is $10,000. Winners will be announced on April 29.

A Tale of Neil Young Fans and Longtime Farm Aid Supporters Coming Together

KariEarly Saturday morning one of Farm Aid's biggest supporters sent me a message, asking if I knew of anyone who might want front row, center tickets for Neil Young's show in Hollywood that night.

The email came from a man who I refer to as the head "Farm Aidian," a group of Canadians who attend the Farm Aid concert each year. Paul Salden, the dude in charge, organizes a group of his employees and pays their way to the concert. They refer to it as the annual company retreat. As you can imagine, they're a fun group. They load a bus up north of the border (Paul's wife Renee got a special driving license for this purpose alone) and make their way to wherever the concert is that fall.

I reached out to Deb and Brian Leedom, two members of Farm Aid's development advisory board who live in California. They are also incredibly generous supporters of Farm Aid's work, and the kind of people that will drop everything for an opportunity like this.

When Deb and Brian contacted Paul to see what price he was asking for the pair of tickets, he asked instead that they give a gift to Farm Aid. In the age of ticket reselling, the fact that he was giving away two tickets in faith that they would pay it forward made my heart swell. He could have gotten a ridiculous amount of money for himself, and instead he thought of Farm Aid.

The incredible thing about our loyal fans is their commitment to us. This has meant the same people often sit in the same seats at our concert, year after year. They've come to at the very least recognize faces, and in some cases have even struck up lasting friendships or relationships! I'm still waiting on one pair's engagement announcement.

When Deb and Brian met up with Paul and Rylee, they decided to make a night of it. The Leedoms took the Farm Aidians out to dinner, Hollywood style. When Deb called me Monday to tell me about the show, she could barely get her words out 48 hours later! "I COULD HAVE TOUCHED HIS FOOT!" she squealed.

L to R: Paul, Deb, Brian, Rylee

I'm so grateful that our "Four Guys," as we call them, have attracted people like these folks to our work. Many people come for the music, initially. Then they are changed by hearing their favorite artists convey their passion about Farm Aid's work to keep family farmers on the land. I am inspired by stories like this one, and so glad that our extended family members think of Farm Aid and want to do just a little bit more when they can.