The Farmers Market Coalition is recruiting farmers and market managers for our latest advocacy initiative: The WIC FMNP Fly-in Project. With support from Patagonia and in partnership with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, FMC will be flying up to 8 farmers and market managers to DC to speak directly to their Members of Congress about the importance of the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP).
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) improves access to nutritious foods for low-income pregnant women, mothers, and young children. In 1992, Congress created WIC FMNP in order to achieve two goals: increase WIC participants’ consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and increase awareness and support of local agriculture. In addition to their monthly WIC benefits, participants can receive additional FMNP checks to be spent at their local farmers market.
This program is under threat — WIC FMNP has been proposed for elimination by the current administration. There is no better way to influence policy than for key members of the Agriculture Committee to hear directly from those they represent.
Each year, WIC FMNP directly connects over 1.5 million low income families to 17,000 independent farmers at local farmers markets nationwide, providing an additional 67 million servings of fruits and vegetables each year to low income women and children. The impact for families cannot be understated. Help FMC tell Congress that we must protect this vital program!
If you are a farmer or market manager who cares about WIC FMNP, we want to send you to Washington, DC! We are specifically looking for folks based in Oregon, Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Nebraska, or Vermont, to target key Congress Members. If you or someone you know is interested, please complete this brief application form.
2018 Farmer Fly In
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 were threatened with elimination from the 2018 Farm Bill.
Recognizing the need for action, the Farmers Market Coalition launched the 2018 Farmer Fly-In Project and sent six farmers and one market manager to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill about the importance of farmers markets and the farm bill programs that support them. This type of advocacy — constituents speaking directly with their elected officials — is by every account the most effective way to influence policy, and is why it’s so important that direct-marketing farmers are heard by federal lawmakers.
Our participants did an amazing job advocating for farmers markets and critical federal programs such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program, WIC/Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program. The group crammed 22 meetings into a day and a half, including a meeting with the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Mike Conaway (TX). And the results speak for themselves. Despite serious concerns about the House draft of the bill, thanks to Farmers Market Coalition advocacy–including the fly in, farmers markets are well represented in the final 2018 farm bill. Given the success of this project, it’s certainly one that will remain in our toolbox for future advocacy efforts.
Who are these champions we sent to Washington? Meet them below, and learn why we chose them to speak on behalf of direct-marketing farmers, ranchers, and farmers markets!
"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."
Farmer Jennifer Taylor
Lola's Organic Farm - Glenwood, Georgia
Produces: Fruit & 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.”
Market Manager Gia Matheney
Hernando Farmers Market - Hernando, Mississippi
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."
“What an eye-opening experience it was for me to visit legislators in their offices to speak to them personally about my policy concerns as a small farmer trying to make a living! The Farmer’s Market Coalition staff did a super job of helping us feel at ease, understand the whole process and the issues at hand. Now I am way more likely to be paying close attention to how my legislators are influencing farm policy and also much more confident about directly letting them know my opinions. As they say, ‘this is what democracy looks like’!”
Rancher Lyn Garling
Over the Moon Farm - Rebersburg, Pennsylvania
Produces: Poultry, pork, & hay
“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."
Farmer Julia Asherman
Rag & Frass Farm – Jefferson, Georgia
Produces: Vegetables, fruit, specialty cut flowers, & herbs
"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."
Farmer Armen Carlon
Sierra Cascade Farm - Forest Ranch, California
"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."
“I am very proud to have been a part of the Farmers Market Coalition Fly-In to D.C. to advocate for farm bill programs that benefit farmers markets and farmers and ranchers,” Amy wrote shortly after departing from D.C. “Having an opportunity to speak directly to legislators and their staff was inspiring and taught me that all of our voices are important and should be heard. If we don’t speak up and act as advocates, we won’t make a difference for ourselves and others. FMC helped us tell our stories and impress on our lawmakers the importance of thriving farmers markets for small Ag all over our country.”
Rancher Amy Greer
Winters Family Beef - Brady, Texas
Produces: Grassfed Wagu & Angus beef