I’d like to introduce myself; I’m Hannah Tremblay, Farm Aid’s new Policy and Advocacy Manager. My job is to advocate for policy changes that benefit family farmers. I’m here to explain complex information so that our community members can better understand where and why we stand on complicated issues, understand the ways in which these policies affect farmers, and how we can improve them. I’m honored to take part in Farm Aid’s work and build on its legacy of driving legislative change that supports family farmers and the good food movement.
I grew up in an agriculturally rich community and was raised from a young age to value the hard work that goes into growing food and the important role that farms play in grounding and feeding communities. I began working on farms right out of college and fell in love with both the work and the New England farming community. For the better part of a decade, I worked on various production farms, with commodity and row-crop farmers, at a non-profit educational farm, and even spent a formative season lambing in eastern Montana.
During my years farming, the challenges that farmers face in accessing land, making ends meet, and navigating the ever-increasing effects of climate change became glaringly apparent. In an effort to address some of these issues, I went back to school to study agricultural science and food policy.
My first chance to work with policy came as a graduate student, when I was working for an organization advocating on behalf of young farmers. I was researching policy in New York state that helps prevent farmland from being developed out of agriculture. Speaking with farmers and legislators made clear the important impact that this policy had; it helped farmers get their businesses off the ground and remain in their communities, protecting them from being priced off their land. I learned how complex it is to create and pass effective legislation, and the very real ways in which this type of work could benefit farming communities.
“I grew up in an agriculturally rich community and was raised from a young age to value the hard work that goes into growing food and the important role that farms play in grounding and feeding communities.”
Through experiences like this one, as well as studying agricultural policy, I came to understand what an important tool policy can be and how, combined with organizing and effective advocacy, it can be used to address and improve problems in our food system. Whether we like it or not, the laws and regulations that control most of our food and farming system are created in Washington and our state capitals. I’m here to help Farm Aid and the farmers we work with make sense of these processes and hopefully, find more policy solutions like the one I worked on in New York.
Policy is personal; it affects everything from where our tax dollars go, to what schools our children attend, and importantly, to how our food system functions. I’ve found learning about policy and advocating for its change to be empowering. My experience working within the farming community informs the way I think about policy and how I approach my work; I not only consider how policies affect our whole food system, but also how individual policies could affect the farmers I know and the communities with whom I’ve worked.
I’m especially excited to have joined Farm Aid at this moment: 2023 is an important year for U.S. farmers and agriculture— it’s a Farm Bill year. The Farm Bill is a package of legislation passed every five years that affects everything from crop insurance to SNAP funding to agricultural conservation practices. Every Farm Bill has the potential to change our food system and impact farmers in big ways. I’m thrilled to help Farm Aid advocate for a Farm Bill and other legislation that works for family farmers and the environment. While the passage of every Farm Bill can be contentious, the increasing polarization of politics makes each successive version of the bill even tougher and more complicated.
I’m excited about the potential to address issues like climate change, water quality, farmer student loan debt, fair credit, CAFOs, and healthy food accessibility in this upcoming Farm Bill. Be sure to stay tuned for updates.