Fresh on the heels of a legislative victory in Minnesota, where passage of a tax credit bill gives young farmers better access to land, the National Young Farmers Coalition converges in Washington, D.C., today to advocate for a 2018 farm bill that renews rural economies and enables a new generation of farmers to grow the nation’s food supply.
“These young farmers have come to Washington, D.C., to fight for their livelihoods, and for the future of American agriculture,” said Andrew Bahrenburg, national policy director of NYFC. “As any farmer will tell you, June is a very difficult time to leave the farm. That’s how important this farm bill is to their futures. America’s farm population is aging rapidly, and hundreds of millions of acres of U.S. farmland will change hands in the next two decades. Our nation needs more young farmers, and young farmers need better access to land, student loan debt relief and affordable health care.”
Among the farmers participating in the June 6-7 fly-in are: Jason Grimm, 31, who grows beans and pastured poultry in Iowa; Matthew Fitzgerald, 25, an organic grain farmer who worked for the recent passage of the tax credit bill in Minnesota; Jocelyn Story, 28, a former journalist who now runs a three-acre organic farm near Boulder, Colo.; Casey Holland, 27, who runs a small specialty crop operation in New Mexico and is passionate about student debt and land access issues; and Vanessa Prileson, 33, a rancher who runs the local NYFC chapter in Arizona.
Representing the Navajo Nation is Brandon Francis who grows corn, beans, squash and watermelon in New Mexico and Colorado. Joining him are Coalition members: Bobby Jones, 30, who runs “Babe & Sage” farm in middle Georgia; Davon Goodwin Raeford, 28, a disabled vet who farms grapes, hens and livestock in North Carolina; Ron Williams, Jr., 36, a farmer and fisherman who runs the Washington, D.C., NYFC chapter; Bryan Jenkins, 29, who runs an urban farm in Baltimore, as well as a five acre vegetable farm in Maryland; and Nate Powell-Palm, 25, who runs a large-scale organic beef and grain operation in Montana.
Among the legislators the farmers are scheduled to meet are members and staff of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees including: Senators Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Steve Daines, R-Mont., David Perdue, R-Ga., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; as well as Representatives Austin Scott, R-Ga., Scott Tipton, R-Colo.; Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-Minn., and Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz.