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Young Farmers Impacting PA

Posted by Christina Kostelecky at Jan 23, 2018 03:05 PM |
As with much of life, farming is an unpredictable force. The fields and the animals guide us in many directions, confronting us to make many decisions along the way. These decisions can lead us to places we’ve never been, or places with new challenges. With that of course, comes new opportunities. A mixer at a local farm in the Spring of 2015 presented the opportunity to form the Young Farmers of Southeastern PA, one of 38 affiliate chapters of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). Since its founding in 2010, NYFC’s primary focus has been to ensure the success of...

 

As with much of life, farming is an unpredictable force. The fields and the animals guide us in many directions, confronting us to make many decisions along the way. These decisions can lead us to places we’ve never been, or places with new challenges. With that of course, comes new opportunities. A mixer at a local farm in the Spring of 2015 presented the opportunity to form the Young Farmers of Southeastern PA, one of 38 affiliate chapters of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). Since its founding in 2010, NYFC’s primary focus has been to ensure the success of a new generation of farmers. That means that while we’re spending most of our days in the fields, we’ve got a solid team of highly motivated individuals fighting for us in DC, writing and campaigning for policies that support young and beginning farmers.


NYF Logo
NYFC has also taken a strong stance against racism in agriculture and has worked towards dismantling racism through discussions and workshops aimed to educate and mobilize a population of mostly white folks. The Young Farmers of Southeastern PA fully support these efforts and hope to bring these techniques to our local chapter, as well as learn from our community ways to address racial inequity in food and farming.

NYF- Spring Mixer
Since our local chapter’s inception, we have been working towards organizing our network of young farmers to collaborate, engage, and foster change in a food system that desperately needs to hear the voices of a new generation. We have hosted mixers and potlucks all over the Southeastern region and have collaborated with CRAFT events. We are excited to continue connecting farmers, both rural and urban and everywhere in between. “Farmers over the age of 65 now outnumber farmers under 35 by a margin of six to one, and U.S. farmland is overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of older farmers.” That’s an excerpt from NYFC’s 2017 Report, released last November after surveying over 3,500 young farmers across the nation.

NYF- Costello 2
The report outlines the challenges young farmers are facing, with the top two obstacles being access to land and student loan debt. NYFC is working with partners all over the country to find and promote solutions to the structural barriers preventing young and beginning farmers from entering the field. In April 2016, our local chapter leaders met with Rep. Ryan Costello (PA 6) to discuss these challenges and urge our Congresspeople to represent young and beginning farmers in Washington. Months passed as we continued to organize and grow our chapter. We got word last November that the Young and Beginning Farmers Act (H.R. 4201) had officially been introduced to Congress by Sean Maloney (NY-18) and our own Ryan Costello! NYF- FrankH.R. 4201 would improve access to affordable farmland by creating more flexibility within the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to allow land trusts to protect farmland more quickly and facilitate its transfer to a new farmer. It will also protect the affordability of conserved farmland for farmers and ensure that it remains in farming by prioritizing stronger conservation easements funded through ACEP. The bill also addresses the difficulties reaching federal farm bill programs and opportunities for training, mentorship, and business development like establishing mandatory baseline funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). The full text of the bill can be found here. This is a moment to be celebrated indeed! This small but crucial success shows the impact a couple of motivated young farmers can potentially have on a massive piece of legislation, such as the Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill is getting reauthorized this year which means now is the time to reach out and meet with your representatives to promote legislation that supports young and beginning farmers. We will be organizing more of these meetings in the coming weeks and are available to help set them up in your district too.

NYF Convergence
We are fortunate to be farmers, even in times like these. The last election caused a diverse series of reactions and people asking questions like, “What do we do now?” The answer is what we’ve always been doing, but more of it. As farmers, we are not strangers to ideas of

NYF- Waterways

community and partnerships, protests and activism, and learning from each other and growing as one. It’s easy to have ideas and hopes of what you want to accomplish, but the road to get there is always hazy. It becomes more clear when you begin to seek out those who share your frustrations, who share your commitment and devotion to restoring our food system and our planet through the regenerative and sustainable methods that many of us are already practicing. Food is the great equalizer and we are the farmers. We are the ones that are going to ensure a smooth transition for the next generation, and we are not alone.
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NYFC's Executive Director, Lindsey Lusher Shute will be the Keynote Speaker on Thursday evening at the PASA Conference. Learn more about how our organization is having an impact at the national level and how you can become involved. Then stop by the NYFC table at the PASA conference and join us downstairs at Legends Pub on Friday 2/9 after final workshop of the day during the social hour.

Connect with the local chapter on Facebook
Connect with the NYFC on their website or on Facebook
Contact us at youngfarmerspa@gmail.com
By Frank Kurylo, Kimberton CSA

Frank Kurylo

Originally intending on going into environmental law, Frank sought to gain a unique perspective by working on a farm. He got his start in farming as an intern at Kimberton CSA in 2012. It was then that he discovered the beauty of organic and biodynamic agriculture, the local food movement, and all of the benefits and possibilities farming had to offer.
Realizing his passion aligned more with farming than law he continued that experience at Two Gander Farm in Downingtown, PA for three more seasons. As he hones the skills necessary to grow vegetables and manage a CSA, he partnered with Andrew Turner to return to Kimberton CSA. Frank also works as an organizer for the PA chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition and is an dedicated PASA volunteer.
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