On November 7th, we witnessed Kamala Harris, our country’s first woman, and first woman of color, accept her election to the Vice Presidency and reaffirm that “Democracy is not a state. It is an act.”
Thank you for taking action and exercising your right to vote!
We also know that our democracy depends on civic action beyond this election. While a Biden-Harris administration and the most diverse Congress in history signals an opportunity for change, it is our responsibility to advocate for the future our farming communities deserve.
The Biden-Harris administration will be tasked with working to unify a country plagued by a pandemic and wealth inequality, with an escalating climate crisis, and racial justice too long deferred. This is a time for solutions, and all across the country there are young farmers showing what’s possible.
Our coalition of young farmer leaders have innovative solutions to heal division, promote sustainability, feed our communities, and fight for equity for those marginalized and exploited.
We’re excited to see the Biden-Harris transition commit to a unifying vision for rebuilding our country and we urge the new administration to invest in our nation’s young farmers. In this transition memo to the Biden team we outline specific measures the administration can take to ensure that we build a bright and just future for agriculture:
- Work for Equitable Land Access: As nearly 100 million acres of farmland are set to change hands over the next five years, we cannot miss this opportunity to revitalize rural economies and build a pathway for millions of young people to participate in rebuilding our communities. We need a national effort to transition our nation’s farmland from retiring farmers to young farmers and farmers of color.
- Center Racial Equity in Agriculture: We applaud the Biden-Harris transition for prioritizing the need to “address longstanding inequities in agriculture,” and we urge the new administration to put racial equity at the center of agricultural policy and program decisions. We also strongly support recognizing the essential work provided by farm workers by providing legal status based on prior agricultural work history, ensuring paid sick time, and requiring that labor and safety rules are strictly enforced.
- Take Bold Climate Action: In our rapidly changing climate, we need to support the next generation of farmers who have an uncompromising dedication to climate action. We see the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to “ensuring that environmental justice is a key consideration in where, how, and with whom we build,” and urge them to prioritize young and BIPOC farmers and ranchers as we create a climate-resilient food system.
- Increase USDA Accessibility and Accountability: Young farmers and farmers of color are both adopting innovative practices and carrying forward traditional farming methods as they build their businesses. USDA must evolve to meet the needs of new and diverse farmers through programs that are equitably accessible for the next generation of agriculture. And USDA must recommit to transparent science- and data-based decision making that identifies which farmer populations are being served.
- Forgive Student Loan Debt: Getting an education shouldn’t prevent aspiring farmers and ranchers from entering the agricultural workforce, or compromise their ability to take out a farm loan and build a small business. By addressing the burden of student loan debt, the Biden-Harris administration can unlock the potential of a generation of young people.
Implementing these strategies will improve the quality of life for everyone in our country, regardless of political affiliation. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to make progress toward a food and farm system, and a future, that better serves all of us.
Sophie Ackoff, Martin Lemos,
and the National Young Farmers Coalition Staff