Farm Aid President Willie Nelson has sent an open letter to President-elect Barack Obama, congratulating him on his victory and offering Farm Aid as a resource for a new farm and food policy that supports a sustainable, family farm system of agriculture.
In his letter, Nelson points out how Farm Aid and a network of farm and food organizations across the country, together with family farmers, have been working for years to develop alternatives to the industrial food system.
Nelson begins by explaining how Farm Aid was started in 1985 when,’family farmers were being forced off their land as a result of federal policy that paved the way for industrial agriculture. This shift replaced independent family farmers with factory farms that have wreaked havoc on our communities, our environment and our public health.’
‘Now is the time for our country to recognize and call on family farmers’ ingenuity, strength and value to our past and our future,’ he said. ‘We can have strong local economies, green energy, a clean environment, healthy citizens and good food – all of these start with family farmers. I look forward to working with you to make this vision of a family farm system of agriculture a reality.’
In early October, the USA writer and renowned critic of US farm policy Michael Pollan described an urgent need to change the country’s “catastrophic” food system, in his long letter to the future president published in the New York Times.
In a recent address, Pollan proclaimed that Obama would not be able to, ‘lower health-care costs because without reforming the food system, Americans will continue to consume cheap, unhealthful food, stay overweight and have myriad diet-related diseases.’ Pollan went on to suggest that the White House lawn be transformed from a 17-acres of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, to an organic garden – as Eleanor Roosevelt did in leading the Victory Garden movement at the end of World War II.
During the presidential campaign, Obama angered some farming groups with his comments regarding agriculture being partly responsible for increased health costs and greenhouse gas emissions. While Obama is a supporter of biofuels and the recently instated Food Bill, one of the major agricultural issues where Bush and Obama differ is climate change. Obama has pledged to work with Congress to enact limits on greenhouse gas emissions, but it is unsure what kind of impacts this will bring to agriculture.
Read Willie Nelson’s full letter to the president here.