When you bring a bunch of farmers together over pizza and beer, there’s a certain magic that happens. On September 9th, after traveling from thirteen different states, nineteen farmers from incredibly diverse backgrounds descended on Washington, DC, for the first session of the 2018-19 National Farmers Union’s (NFU) Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI). This educational opportunity is an annual leadership training program that offers three sessions in different parts of the country. In November, we’ll meet up again in northern California and March in Washington state. The mission of BFI is “to empower people to educate our youth, neighbors, media and policymakers of the social, economic and cooperative contributions of family agriculture.”
The National Farmers Union (NFU) was founded over 110 years ago and advocates for grassroots policy change that supports the welfare of family farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and consumers. NFU writes, “We promote sustainable production of food, feed, fiber, and fuel and work with our 200,000 member families nationwide to support smart farm policies, educate the public and develop the next generation of farm leaders.” To achieve this mission, the nationwide organization coordinates legislative fly-ins in the spring and fall every year as critical issues come before Congress for a vote.
What happens when you put 75+ women farmers from around the country together for four days to tour farms and talk shop, you ask? Magic. Pure magic.