Farmers are now dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis on a daily basis. Experts predict weather events including droughts and flooding will only get worse. Young and beginning farmers, especially BIPOC farmers, are feeling those impacts the most. Are there opportunities to advance water and climate action and justice through the 2024 Farm Bill? We interview Abi Fain, Chief Legal and Policy Officer at the Intertribal Ag Council. And we’ll talk to young farmers building solutions to address water access and climate issues.
Abi Fain, Chief Legal & Policy Officer, Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC)
Abi works with her colleagues at IAC to develop and implement education and advocacy strategies that support the policy priorities identified by IAC’s member Tribes and advance IAC’s overall mission of pursuing and promoting the conservation, development and use of Tribal agriculture resources for the betterment of Tribal people. To this, Abi and IAC’s policy team focus their efforts on ensuring Tribal producers have opportunities to meaningfully participate in programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs through administrative or legislative solutions. Prior to joining IAC in May 2022, Abi practiced law for seven years at Pipestem Law and specialized in the representation of tribal governments, tribal enterprises, and Native organizations. Abi is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Susan Mitchell, Owner and Operator, Cloverleigh Farms + Young Farmers Land Fellow
Susan Mitchell is the owner/operator of Cloverleigh Farm in Columbia, CT. As a first-generation farmer, she grows certified organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers for a robust CSA program alongside her partner Josh Carnes, who raises pastured-livestock. They landed on their "forever farm" a few years ago after leasing land for many years while searching for long-term tenure and security. Susan is one of the co-founders of the New Connecticut Farmer Alliance, the Connecticut Chapter of Young Farmers.
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!
LeVar Eady, CEO and Founder, BluRok Farms + Young Farmers Water Fellow
BluRok Farm was born out of LeVar’s determination to grow the best hemp/cannabis possible while building a business that helps people become business owners and heal the planet. His path started in the garden where I learned to grow roses with his grandmother. Visit BluRok Farms at https://blurokfarm.com/.
Shannon Maes, Rancher, San Juan Ranch + Young Farmers Water Fellow
What’s a ground-level view from a cattle ranch in southern Colorado as fall turns to winter amidst prolonged drought and as legislative work on Farm Bill 2024 wraps up? Shannon Maes shares some of her experiences of drought, working with water and grazing for soil health and climate resilience as well as a few thoughts on agricultural and food policy from her perspective of working on ranches and ditchriding in her home region of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Shannon has worked in agriculture since 2017 and completed a Water Advocacy Fellowship through the National Young Farmer’s Coalition during 2023. Currently she works with cows, dogs, horses, people, soil, grass, and weather at San Juan Ranch in the San Luis Valley.
Check out the Intertribal Agriculture Council here
Learn more about the USDA’s EQIP program here and the crop insurance agent training program Abi mentions here
More information about the Small Farms Conservation Act and the Farmer to Farmer Education Act can be found here and here
Connect with the farmers featured in this episode. Visit Cloverleigh Farm, Hollenbeck's Cider Mill, San Juan Ranch, and BluRok Farm
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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