In the first week of June, with the 2018 farm bill already in motion, twelve young farmers flew to D.C. to tell Congress we need a farm bill that invests in our future. They discussed land access, student loans, health care and more. We held 44 meetings in one day and left D.C. feeling confident that young farmer interests will be included in the next farm bill.

June is one of the hardest times of the year to leave the farm, and we’re so grateful to our farmers for taking the time to share their stories. Thanks also to Applegate and the Walton Family Foundation for their generous support to make the fly-in possible.


 

Davon Goodwin

“The hardest thing is our food system isn’t just. We don’t have a just and equitable food system. I feel like food in America is more of a privilege than a right. For me, it’s my duty and my job to make sure that everybody has the access and everybody has the privilege to be able to have the food no matter what their income is.”
—Davon Goodwin, O.T.L. Farms, NC

 

Jocelyn Story

“To be a farmer is to be a steward of your land and a representative of your community.”
Jocelyn Story, Cure Organic Farm, CO

 

Casey Holland

“I’m here to tell Congress they really need to support us. Young and beginning farmers are what are going to be keeping our country moving forward in the future. They really need to invest in us.”
Casey Holland, Red Tractor Farm, NM

 

Bryan Alexander

“Farming is hard, and having to worry about where the future will take us—whether that’s health care or affordable access to land—it’s hard to both work on the farm all day and then be so uncertain about what the future holds for us.”
Bryan Alexander, Good Dog Farm, MD

 

Vanessa Prileson

“I want Congress to know that we are out there expecting them to pay attention to what we need.”
Vanessa Prileson, Arizona Small-Scale Farmers Alliance

 

Jason Grimm

“I’m excited to talk to my Representatives about funding and grant programs that help beginning farmers.”
Jason Grimm, Grimm Family Farm, IA

 

Brandon Francis

“I want Congress to hear that especially young farmers who are coming out of college—not only are they loaded with debt, but getting access to land and to water that’s healthy and soil that’s healthy is one of the biggest obstacles that they face, and that’s one of the biggest things that they need help with.”
Brandon Francis, Yéego Gardening, Old Fort Farm, Navajo Nation

 

Peter Burns

“There’s a lot of critical issues facing farming in the next decade or two. It’s a time that we haven’t seen in American agriculture—ever. Number one is land access for young farmers coming into agriculture.”
Pete Burns, Burns Heritage Farm, PA

 

Matthew Fitzgerald

“Our number one challenge is access to land. My neighborhood’s super competitive in terms of land values. Rent’s very high. Land cost is super high. So if you’re a young person and don’t have a lot of capital, it’s very difficult to start farming.”
Matthew Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Organics, MN

 

Bobby Jones

“Access to land early on was an issue for us. Now that we have secure land tenure it’s more access to capital and being able to scale up the farm. And then also access to healthcare is a difficult issue in our state for young farmers.”
Bobby Jones, Babe + Sage Farm, GA

 

 

Nate Powell-Palm

“Young farmers have this incredible opportunity to get on the land and to address the fact that our current average farmer is about 60 years old. And we’re ready to go, but we need this support, this institutional support, from the farm bill to make sure that we’re successful.”
Nate Powell-Palm, Cold Springs Ranch, MT

 

Ron Williams, Jr.

“The number one thing I want my Congressman and Senator to know is that there are African American farmers in the state of Maryland, and that there’s a youth movement that’s excited about what farming is in Maryland. Farming in Maryland: it means freedom. It means economic opportunity, entrepreneurship… I want them to preserve that which we have in Maryland.”
Ron Williams, Jr., Dorchester’s Farm FoodHub


 

We’ll be following up this fly-in with young farmer roundtable discussions with elected officials in key states this summer. In the fall, we’ll announce the results of our national survey of young farmers and ranchers, and hold another fly-in in Washington, D.C.  Stay tuned!

 


 

 

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