Every day the Farm Aid hotline rings with urgent calls from farmers facing a terrible crisis. We haven’t seen bad times like this since Farm Aid started in 1985. There are facts and figures about how tough it is in the countryside, but what really paints the picture are the real-life stories we hear from farmers, in their own words.
Too many farmers worry this will be the last year for their farm. They fear they’re letting down the generations who cared for the land before them, and the generations they’d hoped would follow.
Most farmers tell us they don’t like to ask for help, but they don’t know who else to turn to and what else to do.
Farmers are working 80, 100, 120 hours a week to try to make ends meet. Many have been forced to deplete their savings due to years of low prices. Some say they’re earning the same prices they received 30 or 40 years ago when they started farming.
Farm families have made hard sacrifices. Some have told us they’re choosing to feed their animals rather than themselves. A few have moved into the barn for the winter because they can’t afford to heat both their barn and their home.
Most farmers tell us they don’t like to ask for help, but they don’t know who else to turn to and what else to do. They don’t want a hand-out, but they do need a hand to survive in the current farm economy.
These are devastating conversations that can leave a person wondering how our country can leave farmers out there in the cold. We all depend on farmers. Fortunately, we have the benefit of knowing there are many people — like you — who want to help and who are helping, each and every day.
Many of the calls that take place on our farmer hotline conclude with a glimmer of hope. Our trained farm advocates, Joe and Annie, and others across the country who provide emotional, legal and financial expertise, can often help farmers take the next step in their fight to stay on the land.
This has always been part of the work of Farm Aid. It was the reason Willie started Farm Aid—he could not just stand by while farmers were being pushed off the land. We need each and every family farmer in order to achieve our vision of a food system that values family farmers, good food for all, our soil and water, and our communities. That’s why answering the call for each farmer is our priority. We’re also building up our farm advocate network, so more farm advocates can pick up the phone when it rings.
We can’t have the farm and food system we all want without having family farmers on the land.
PS: Farmers are some of the most optimistic people I know. The farmers who call our hotline have plans for their farms, but these days their hopes for the future look dim. Please join Farm Aid to make sure the future for family farmers is hopeful and bright.