Help Us Elevate the Important (and Often Unheard) Voices of Farmers!
The Farmers Market Coalition is excited to announce our latest advocacy campaign: The Farmer Fly-In Project! But in order for this project to take flight, we need your help now.
Tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country rely on farmers markets to build and support their business. Nevertheless, federal programs designed to bolster farmers markets and spur economic growth are threatened with elimination from the 2018 Farm Bill.
The Farmer Fly-In Project aims to send six local food champions to speak with their members of Congress, each of whom serves on the Agriculture Committee and will be influential in the outcome of the Farm Bill. These champions, made up of farmers, ranchers, and market managers from key Congressional Districts across America, will share the challenges and priorities they face operating a small, direct-marketing business, and how these programs have made a positive impact on their bottom line.
There is no better way to influence policy than for key members of the Agriculture Committee to hear directly from those they represent. In order to send each of these constituents to Washington D.C., we need to raise a total of $6,500 by December 31, and we are asking you to help us. By making a donation today, you will elevate these important (and often unheard) voices in support of small farms and farmers markets across the country.
Please consider making a gift of any amount today!
Who are these champions we hope to send to Washington? Meet them below, and learn why we chose them to speak on behalf of direct-marketing farmers, ranchers, and farmers markets!
Rancher Amy Greer
Winters Family Beef – Brady, Texas
Produces: Grassfed Wagu & Angus beef
In 2008, Amy’s father gave his children a choice: take up the family ranching business or risk losing the storied Winters Family Ranch, one of the oldest Cattle operations in West Central Texas. Amy stepped up, and has since taken the ranch in a new direction by selling their beef direct to consumers.
“The ability to market our beef direct to consumers through farmers markets has allowed us to get out of the commercial cattle business and have more control over the financial status of the Ranch. Farmers markets give us the freedom to produce high-quality food offered at a fair price and hang onto our family ranch for another generation.”
Why send Amy?
Advocating on behalf of the ranchers and farmers of McCulloch County runs in Amy’s blood. In 1936, when the town of Brady was almost washed away in a flood, Amy’s great-great grandfather father, H.D. Winters, set to work with Congressman O.C. Fisher in Washington, D.C. to establish a flood control system in West and Central Texas. Winters Family Ranch is located in Texas’ 11th Congressional District, represented by Mike Conaway, chair of the House Agriculture Committee. In Washington, Amy will be able to speak as a constituent to one of the most influential players on American agricultural policy about the importance of farmers markets for her ranch.
Farmer Julia Asherman
Rag & Frass Farm – Jefferson, Georgia
Produces: Vegetables, fruit, specialty cut flowers, & herbs
Rag & Frass Farm was started by Julia Asherman who turned an old motel and neglected pasture into a diversified, 3-acre farm complete with laying hens and a cow. After making peace with the fire ants and teaching herself how to farm, Julia fell in love with the long growing season, challenging climate, and southern country ways.
“For my farm, direct farmers market sales is at least 75% of our income, next to production it is the other most important part of the operation. It is how we make a living, how we advertise our products, how we brand and create customer loyalty.”
Why send Julia?
As a beginning farmer, Julia is part of a growing movement of young people and people without farming backgrounds entering the field of agriculture. Julia’s farm is located in the 8th District in Georgia, represented by Congressman Austin Scott and Senator David Perdue, both of whom serve on their respective agriculture committees.
Farmer Jennifer Taylor
Lola’s Organic Farm – Glenwood, Georgia
Produces: Fruit & vegetables
Jennifer Taylor and her partner Ron Gilmore farm 32.5 acres of land once owned by her grandmother, a sharecrop who saved money and purchased the farm she once worked. Taylor and Gilmore re-established the farm after it had been abandoned, converted to organic, and named it in honor of Taylor’s grandmother, Lola.
“Farmers Markets offer communities access to fresh, seasonal, locally grown organic certified produce. They offer friendly gathering spaces that nurture relationships between small farmers and their communities, local food resources and access.”
Why send Jennifer?
Jennifer serves on the Organic Farmers Association and is a post member of the National Organic Standards Board. Her congressman and senator are both on their house’s agriculture committees and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is also from Georgia.
Farmer Armen Carlon
Sierra Cascade Farm – Forest Ranch, California
Sierra Cascade was one of the first organic blueberry farms in California when John and Armen Carlon established it in 1989. The Carlons raised their sons on the farm and currently employ 25-50 seasonal employees to grow blueberries of exceptional quality without the aid of off-farm inputs.
“Farmers markets have been important to Sierra Cascade since we began nearly 30 years ago. As our farm and harvests have grown, we’ve expanded to a number of local farmers markets, and over the decades, have been fortunate to educate and celebrate our customers, many of whom we now consider friends.”
Why send Armen?
Sierra Cascade is located in California’s 1st Congressional District, which has among the most farmers markets of any district in the country and is represented by Congressman Doug LaMalfa, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee.
Rancher Lyn Garling
Over the Moon Farm – Rebersburg, Pennsylvania
Produces: Poultry, pork, & hay
While Lyn has been involved in agriculture for much of her life, it took her 40 years to figure out how to get her own farm. That was 20 years ago and she hasn’t looked back. Over the Moon Farm, which Lyn runs with Patty Neiner, is a 26 acre, grass-based certified organic farm that sells all of their products through farmers markets and other direct marketing channels.
“Thriving farmers markets in our area have made a huge difference to the profit margins in our direct-marketed animal production operations.”
Why send Lyn?
Over the Moon Farm is located in Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional Districts, represented by Glenn Thompson, chair of the House Nutrition Subcommittee and Senator Bob Casey, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee and is a strong supporter of local and sustainable agriculture.
Market Manager Gia Matheney
Hernando Farmers Market – Hernando, Mississippi
The Hernando Farmers Market was established in 2008 by the city and a group of citizens who wanted a place for the community to convene and provide an outlet for our farmers to sell their products. The market accepts Senior and WIC vouchers, SNAP, and provides a double SNAP incentive through a grant to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
“Our local farmers are smaller and do not sell commercially. The market gives them an outlet to sell their product outside of their farm and allows them to increase the number of crops which benefits them, as well as the local consumer who is looking to buy fresh and local.”
Why send Gia?
Gia will be able to share the importance of key federal programs for her market, community and farmers with Congressman Trent Kelly and Senator Thad Cochran, who both sit on their respective agriculture committees. Cochran is also the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and one of the most senior members of the Senate.