As a Horizon producer since 2008, I was honored to attend Farm Aid on Horizon’s behalf in Kansas City, Kan., last weekend. Farm Aid is an annual benefit concert that raises funds to support the organization’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose food from family farms. I was particularly proud to attend the concert with my 16 year-old son, Timothy, who works on our McVeytown, Pa., farm and will hopefully take over my role one day.
More than anything, the event helped remind me, as a longtime family farmer, why it’s so important for farmers to get involved and to speak with each other and the people who buy our products about what we do and why we do it.
Timothy and I were recognized for our commitment to organic farming at a dinner hosted by Horizon the night before the concert. We received an honorable mention for the Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Award which honors farmers who advocate on behalf of organic agriculture.
During the concert, we were invited to go onstage to help present a donation check to Farm Aid on behalf of Horizon. It was a pretty amazing to not only see Farm Aid board member and artist Willie Nelson up close, but to also see 18,000 people there to support family farmers like us.
Beyond the dinner and concert, the most impactful part of the trip was getting a chance to speak with other organic farmers and supporters of organic agriculture about the importance of educating consumers about where their food comes from and the people who produce it.
I am proud to tell people that I am organic dairy farmer, and believe that organic family farmers can and should play a role in sharing the benefits of organic agriculture. While it is hard to find the time, over the past year or so, I’ve started doing things like holding pasture walks on my 250-acre farm, conducting interviews with reporters, and getting involved with the Pennsylvania Certified Organic Board to help give voice to local organic agricultural issues and topics.
Attending Farm Aid reaffirmed my belief in what I do and why I do it, as well as the importance of organic stewardship and advocacy. A lot of people at Farm Aid who saw us in our Horizon hats and shirts thanked us what we’re doing. I showed them my appreciation for how they’re supporting the livelihood of family farmers with the food choices they make every day. I hope to thank many more people in the future as we continue to educate consumers about the benefits of organic agriculture for the land, animals and farmers like me and Timothy.