February 19, 2007

Farm Food Voices 2007 Recap

A Very Brief Letter from Farm Food Voices DC 2007

Greetings dear wonderful activists,

It was great!!!

We will post a more full account of Farm Food Voices DC 2007 on the NICFA and VICFA websites when the aftermath flurry has settled a bit, but here is a 'note' for now. I imagine others who were there will post letters from the event--I know Sharon Zechenelli--who drove down from Vermont in the snow with Sally Beckwith--sent a "postcard" last night that Walter Jeffries has already posted (http://www.nonais.org), and Kathryn Russell, of VIrginia, has posted a brief write-up on several e-groups, including Americans_Against_NAIS@yahoogroups.com and sayno2nais@yahoogroups.com.

Our purpose for holding this event was for us, the local/sustainable/independent farmer/consumer world, to become real to the legislators in Washington, and we accomplished that. As Joel Salatin said in his inspiring talk, this marked the beginning of this "movement."

As best as we can figure, we had about 250-300 visit the reception. It was a somewhat mobile crowd, as is the nature of that type of reception, but it looked like about HALF of the people were legislative staff and congressmen. That's pretty amazing! A veteran DC lobbyist friend of mine who joined us said there were about 3 times as many people there as he had expected on a day like yesterday--in addition to the weather it was a very busy legislative day on the Hill (Capitol HIll). We suspect that probably five, or more, times as many of our people would have been there if the freak weather had not bound them in. Those who were able to come included folks from, Arkansas, Tennessee, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey and Florida, that we know of. Sid Sargent from Arkansas took a 31 hour bus ride to come, and waited in the Cannon Office Building from 8:00 a.m. until she could in to the reception; Karen Sylvester from Tennessee arrived by bus in DC yesterday morning at 4:00, stayed in the bus station until she could get in to the Cannon Building, then had to get back on the bus at 1:00 p.m. for her return home. Both Sid and Karen walked the halls delivering copies of the Talking Points to all the legislators. Thank you Sid and Karen!! We are hugely grateful for all the efforts everyone made to participate in this in any way. Every effort, from every person, matters. Those who did so much in preparation, only to be thwarted by a rare ice storm, need to know their presence was felt, even if their bodies were not there.

The Congressmen we know attended included Ron Paul, of Texas, who spoke with eloquence and passion; Virgil Goode, of Virginia, who proudly wore a VICFA button; Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who also spoke briefly--and who has been talking openly with us about this since last summer; a congressman from New Jersey; and Congressman Salazar of Colorado. We are pretty sure there were others, so if anyone who was there knows who they were, pls. let me know. As mentioned before, there were dozens of staff aides and legislative assistants, representing their respective Congressmen and Senators. We had a great talk w/Curtis Ellis, aide to Rep. Steve Kagan (D-WI, member of the Ag. Committee) who asked us about the Farm Bill, and he sent us a copy of a press release Kagan put out last night that included the following: "The solution to our health care crisis will come from our farms and our diet as well as our hospitals and research laboratories. We must help our small farmers maintain their way of life." I don't know for a fact that our event was an influence, but I'm inclined to believe it was. Pete Thomson, aide to Bob Goodlatte, will become famous when we post our picture of him drinking raw milk (I must confess, I handed him a cup and said, "Drink this while we take your picture," and he did, squawking a bit after when I told him what it was, but since he later ate raw milk maple ice cream--all provided by the Amish farmers who came, I didn't feel so bad...).

Many folks had made appointments with their state legislators, and we would like very much to hear back from those folks!!!

The food was awesome. Jon and Nina White came down from New Jersey w/their artisanal raw, aged cheeses and fresh breads, and we overflowed with superb offerings from Weston A. Price folks in the DC area and dishes others drove in with from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and perhaps elsewhere. A group of about ten Amish farmers from the Lancaster, PA, area came with their exquisite raw milk, cream, butter, yogurt and ice cream. They blessed by their presence, as well as their food.

There is much more to tell. Planning is already started for next year....

Deborah Stockton, Editor

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