With the Colorado River Basin facing yet another year of water scarcity, the National Young Farmers Coalition is bringing young farmers from impacted states to Washington, D.C. this week to advocate for farm bill programs that promote drought resilience and enable a new generation of farmers to grow the nation’s food supply.
“These young farmers have come to Washington, D.C. amid the worst drought of their lifetimes. They’re here to fight for their livelihoods, and for the future of American agriculture,” said Erin Foster West, policy specialist for 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. The next generation already faces unique and unprecedented challenges starting their careers in agriculture, and these farmers and ranchers are also trying to do it during unprecedented conditions of limited water supply and extreme weather conditions. There’s no question that our nation needs more young farmers, and young farmers need better support for drought and climate resilience, access to credit and affordable farmland, and opportunities for training and mentorship.”
One such producer, Dan Waldvogle – a rancher and NYFC member from Colorado – will be coming out to D.C. to meet with his representatives as part of the fly-in.
“As a beginning farmer from Colorado, I am acutely aware of the extended drought that we are experiencing. It can be particularly difficult for beginning farmers to withstand these events. I feel that it is extremely important that the 2018 Farm Bill have a hearty safety net and conservation programs directed toward creating resilience for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. I am thrilled with the opportunity to share my voice with my Members of Congress in D.C.” Waldvogle said.
Among the farmers participating in the June 11-12 fly-in are:
• Ea’mon O’Toole, who runs a cow-calf operation in Southern Wyoming
• Travis Stovall and Dan Waldvogle of Colorado
• Selwyn Justice, a second-generation orchard owner-operator from Arizona
• Tiana Baca, who runs an urban, educational farm in Albuquerque
• Michael Johnson, who comes from the Hopi Nation
• Kong Thao, a vegetable producer in Fresno, California
Among the legislators the farmers are scheduled to meet are members and staff of the Senate and House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committees including: Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Michael Gardner (R-CO), John Barrasso (R-WY), Martin Heinrich (R-NM), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ); as well as Representatives Scott Tipton (R-CO), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Liz Cheney (R-WY), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ).