Olivia Watkins of Holly Springs, NC shares why she is joining the 100 young farmers heading to DC for our 4th Annual National Leadership Convergence this November 12th-15th.
“Next week I will be going to the Capitol with 100 other young farmers with NYFC to talk with Members of Congress, learn key organizing and advocacy skills, and make our voices heard in a SUPER critical farm bill year.
Why is it vital for us to make our voices heard this particular farm bill year? The previous farm bill expired on September 30th – which means the funding and programs put into place are on hold due to an inability to reach a negotiation consensus. Congress needs to strike a deal and pass a new farm bill before the end of the year. If they are unable to, the new Congress (elected this week!) will be seated in January, and the ENTIRE PROCESS WILL START FROM SCRATCH. This will leave a lot of expired/on hold programs from last years farm bill – programs that prioritize beginning farmers, young farmers, BIPOC farmers (black, indigenous, people of color), conservation, veterans, organic ag, local food – vulnerable if a whole new Farm Bill needs to be made.
My family and I are currently in the process of reviving our family farm in Holly Springs, NC. We are a 5th generation timber & produce farm that had to stop operations in the 70’s due to economic hardship and prejudice. We are a small business that wants to take advantage of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program. Even though I did not grow up in Holly Springs, I believe it is important for local communities to have access to fresh produce.
Representative George Holding, there is so much to say on this that a social media post won’t do justice. I know one of your priorities is the economy & jobs and I look forward to talking with you and your staffers about how the support of progressive and inclusive programs in the farm bill can help North Carolina build thriving small agriculture businesses and provide jobs. I look forward to meeting you and your staffers next week to talk about the importance of keeping these programs on the bill.”