Podcasts The Farm Report

Episode 1: Why the Farm Bill Matters

Episode: 1

Why should our next generation of farmers – and just about everyone who eats – care about the farm bill? Celize Christy, an Organizer at HEAL Food Alliance explains the basic details on what’s in the legislation, how it gets written, and how it impacts you. Then, Young Farmers’ Policy Campaigns Co-Director Vanessa Garcia Polanco lays out the path forward in terms of the most important issues this time around. And we talk to farmers KD Randall and Matt Hollenbeck about what they need from their policymakers in D.C. 

Guest Bios

Celize Christy, Organizer, HEAL Food Alliance

As an Organizer at HEAL Food Alliance, Celize facilitates connections among members, campaigns, and programs building collective power through HEAL’s multi-sector, multi-racial coalition. Celize comes to HEAL’s campaign and policy work by coordinating farmer-led education programming, advocating for BIPOC farmers in Iowa, and coalition building and organizing with sustainable agriculture organizations. At HEAL, Celize isn’t just an organizer; she’s a passionate agent of change, weaving connections and networks that celebrate the multifaceted voices of our food and farm systems. Read her full bio.

Vanessa García Polanco, Policy Campaigns Co-Director, National Young Farmers Coalition

Vanessa Garcia Polanco co-designs the strategy and implementation of Young Farmers’ policy campaigns, ensuring we are pursuing and advocating for equity-driven, farmer-centric research, policy, and programmatic interventions. She serves as the organizational council member and co-chair of the Farming Opportunities & Fair Competition Committee of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She has previously worked with Food Solutions New England, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension, and the Executive Office of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She is an alumna of Michigan State University and the University of Rhode Island. She is a James Beard Foundation Scholar, AFHVS Innovation Leader, and an Emerging Leader in Food and Agriculture. As an Afro-Dominican immigrant, she brings her experiences and identities to her policy and advocacy activities.

KD Randall, Farmer, Home Grown Farm + Young Farmers Land Fellow

KD is a returning generation farmer who developed a deep appreciation for the land and the ways that it constantly care for us. Inspired by the stories of their family, KD decided to pursue a career in agriculture, determined to contribute to the legacy and sustainability of southern rural agriculture. Recently, KD’s work has focused on healing and fostering remembrance, reconnection, and growth in all of the places they call home, grounding in their southern rural agrarian roots. This passion has inspired them to create Home Grown Farms, a small rural farm that is still blooming into its first form. A component of KD’s long-term vision is to explore ways to offer a diversity of wellness experiences through food, recreation, and spiritual services.

Follow KD @farmerinthekells.

Matt Hollenbeck, Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill + Young Farmers Land Fellow

Matt Hollenbeck lives and farms in Virgil, NY, and is the 4th generation steward of Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill. He has been a factory worker, cubicle jockey, geologist, outdoor adventure guide, worked on a small organic CSA farm, a butcher shop, and many other varied jobs before settling into continuing his family’s 90+-year-old ag processing business. He’s a first-generation orchardist with impostor syndrome, a staunch and vocal advocate for rural issues, smallholder agriculture, and appropriate technology. Matt is also a firm believer that family is the most important part of a family business. And a Luddite to boot!

Check out HEAL Food Alliance’s farm bill priorities here.

Learn more about Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill here.

Follow KD Randle @farmerinthekells

Learn more about the USDA’s EQIP program here, and the NRCS program here.

The Farm Report is hosted by Leigh Ollman and Alita Kelly, produced by Leigh Ollman, Evan Flom and H Conley, and edited by Hannah Beal and H Conley. 

Audio engineering is by Armen Spendjian and H Conley. Music is by Breakmaster Cylinder and Jangwa

Learn more about the National Young Farmers Coalition here and consider becoming a member. Click here to take action on the farm bill and other important policy issues. 

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