Exciting times here at Farm Aid! Last week, Farm Aid was among a handful of organizations invited to speak with White House staff on pressing issues affecting U.S. family farmers. I was the lucky Farm Aid representative attending, and wanted to share a few thoughts.
Beyond the thrill of walking through the front gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, shuffling through security and snapping some pictures in front of the West Wing (yep—that West Wing), was the fulfillment of having a fantastic discussion with representatives from President Obama’s core team of economic advisors. It was a unique opportunity to bring forward the concerns of family farmers—all the way up to the country’s highest office! I was joined by Farm Aid partners, the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA), Food & Water Watch, National Farmers Union, and Rural Coalition.
Our message was simple: fairness for farmers. Washington has already bailed out big banks, automakers, and troubled homeowners. What about focusing on a real source of hope for our nation’s troubled economy? Our family farmers, who are unfairly crippled by the country’s credit crisis, serve as the pillars of Main Streets across the nation. Unable to secure credit, farmers can’t buy seed, equipment, or otherwise pump money into their regional economy. At Farm Aid, we hear from these farmers everyday on our 1-800-FARM-AID hotline, and were eager to share our experiences, the stories of the farmers we speak with day-in, day-out, and our vision for a better, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America.
At the meeting’s end, I was relieved that I didn’t knock over an historic vase or stumble in my high heeled-shoes. But mostly, I was truly honored to be a part of a critical exchange that focused on the needs of our country’s family farmers. Look out for an upcoming blog post about a central focus of our discussion—farm credit—and how Farm Aid has been engaging with the Administration over the past few months.