This is the season for giving thanks. My heart swells with gratitude for you and the incredible support you’ve given to Farm Aid so that we can be here for family farmers. I am proud of the work that you and I have done together to keep family farmers on the land and full of hope, even in their darkest hour.
Farming is one of the toughest jobs out there. And 2017 has been an especially difficult year for family farmers. With recent wildfires across the West, and devastating hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, farmers have been hit hard, if not completely wiped out. Farm Aid is helping farmers tackle the immense recovery effort ahead of them and–because we depend so much on farmers–all of us. We’re also helping farmers face the everyday challenges of a food and farming system that favors the big guys over independent family farmers.
Weather has always been unpredictable, but extreme weather seems to be the new normal. In addition, industrial agriculture practices by large corporations recklessly destroy soil, water and communities, and undercut independent family farmers. The prices farmers receive for the fruits of their labor have been down for four years, and they’re not expected to rise in the near future. New, young farmers face tough barriers to getting started on the land. These problems aren’t solved overnight; solutions are found one farmer at a time, with long-term loyalty from you and me.
Family farmers make us incredibly proud. They are innovative and creative, and they deserve our support in growing a better kind of agriculture. ~Willie Nelson
That’s the Farm Aid way. Farm Aid listens to farmers, giving support and rallying resources that help farmers thrive, now and in the days and years ahead. That’s good for farmers and it’s good all of us. Why? Because family farmers bring us good food and strong local economies, and they protect our soil and water.
You and I have depended on family farmers all our lives. They feed us and our families, and keep our towns alive. Will you be part of something family farmers can depend on by giving a gift to Farm Aid today?
In a world that feels increasingly uncertain, Farm Aid’s solid work is more important—and more needed—than ever. Your gift makes practical solutions to complex problems possible. When you give to Farm Aid, you invest in a future of family farmers, strong communities, healthy soil and good food.
That’s what happened to Michael Buttrill and Caroline Smith of Bootstraps Farm in Renick, West Virginia. In 2016, catastrophic flooding wiped out their farm. Twenty-three West Virginians lost their lives in that flood. Michael and Caroline were grateful to have survived the flood, but with the farm lost, Caroline said they were ready to throw in the towel. But Farm Aid and their community had their backs.
Caroline and Michael joined us at Farm Aid 2017 this year and they talked about the community they have grown, with their farm at the center. That community that rallied around them when they needed help. Farm Aid was there, too.
On the Farm Aid stage, Caroline said, “We got a Farm Aid check in the mail and it was like, ‘We don’t have to worry about paying the bills. It really meant a lot to have an organization step up and say, ‘We don’t want to lose you, we want you to be able to come back and grow next year.’ Because we weren’t getting any relief from FEMA or the USDA right away.” Michael agreed, “With Farm Aid and our community, who turned out with donations and rakes and shovels, I knew, ‘OK, we’re going back to work!’”
This is what Farm Aid is about: showing farmers we stand with them, especially in tough times. And we’re there for the long run, too, not just in times of trouble. Farm Aid is there for farmers every day.
All of us gain when we strengthen family farm agriculture. Nothing is more crucial to our well-being than a healthy food supply that sources directly from family farmers who care for our soil and water.
When I meet family farmers, I feel so much hope in our future. Let me introduce you to some young future farmers we met in Pittsburgh. Urban farmer Ayanna Jones came back to her community of Homewood after retiring from a successful career. Mama Ayanna, as the kids call her, is changing her community and empowering teenagers through farming.
Instead of taking it easy in retirement, Ayanna’s working hard to instill in youth what it means to do good work, to care for the earth, to share your bounty with your neighbors, and to feel valued—by their community and themselves. The kids tilling the soil and harvesting healthy fruits and vegetables at Sankofa Village Community Garden may not all grow up to be farmers. But learning the values of agriculture will take them far in life. It’s already transforming their neighborhood. Ayanna says, “The garden enabled this community to blossom back to where it was when I was young. I grew up in this community and I’ve seen the best of the best here. I also saw the worst of the worst. Now I see the best of the best coming back.”
Family farmers make us incredibly proud. They are innovative and creative, and they deserve our support in growing a better kind of agriculture. Together you and I are supporting farmers like Michael and Caroline, and Ayanna and the young urban farmers of Homewood. With your help, we’re ensuring a future of good food for all of us and the values of family farm agriculture in the next generation.
Your gift to Farm Aid is a way for you to guarantee that even in spite of all of the challenges we face, we have the strength of independent family farmers on the land. Thank you for sharing your bounty to keep family farmers strong.
As we sit down with our families this holiday season, let’s give thanks for family farmers and the way they bring us all together.