Farmer Member Jody Osmond shares his memories of Lobby Day’s past, and vision for the 2021 Food & Farm Week of Action.
My wife Beth and I farm on land that has been in my family for over 80 years, just north of Ottawa. We raise chickens, pigs, and cows on 35 acres of pasture. Our farm, Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, was the Chicago area’s first meat CSA. We’re longtime members of the Alliance.
For us, Lobby Day has always been a family affair. We pile the kids in the car for a trip down to Springfield with the promise of a nice dinner at the end of a long day.
My son Jack was just three when we met then-Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon. Our group of local food advocates from throughout the state discussed how the Lt. Governor could use the bully pulpit of her office to further our efforts to build a local food economy in Illinois.
In the moment, the kids are bored and tired but, by osmosis, they pick stuff up. Now our oldest has finished a poli-sci degree at U of I and is an environmental activist. Another son is studying engineering with a minor in environmental studies because he understands sustainability is important.
Our kids have seen from our example that using your voice matters.
Although we’re sad not to be making the trip down this year due to the pandemic, I’m grateful the Alliance adapted lobby day to a new virtual Food & Farm Week of Action.
As Lobby Leaders, Beth and I scheduled a virtual in-district meeting with Representative Yednock during the Week of Action for ourselves and other Alliance farmers and eaters who are also his constituents.
He serves on the House Agriculture Committee, and we plan to ask him and other members of the committee to support the Illinois Partners for Nutrient Loss Reduction (HB1792). The bill provides support and funding for conservation programs and services to help farmers adopt sustainable practices that protect soil health, water quality, and make farms more resilient.
It’s urgent that farmers have the technical assistance and support to transition to more sustainable practices in the face of climate change.
I’ll also encourage him to support the Healthy Local Food Incentives Fund.
We have seen firsthand how many families rely on SNAP to purchase fresh food at the Logan Square Farmers Market. A state fund to provide a dollar-for-dollar match would double what families in need can purchase and help local farmers sell more produce.
Farmers like us and so many others in the Alliance are stepping up to tell our stories, share our experiences, and encourage policymakers to make the urgent changes we need for a more equitable and sustainable food system. But we can’t do it alone.
As eaters, your voices matter too – and there’s so many more of you than us! We can make change by using our voices together.
Although I look forward to getting back to Springfield next year, I’m grateful we can still participate from the comfort of home.
I look forward to seeing you on the Zoom screen for Food & Farm Week of Action.
Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, Ottawa
P.S. After you register to use your voice at our Food & Farm Week of Action, you can use your choice to buy a CSA share if you haven’t already. Spring is the perfect time to buy a share – specifically mine, but everybody’s else’s too. That’s a great way you can help farms like us.
Thank you, Partners!
Advocates for Urban Agriculture
American Farmland Trust
Central Illinois Young Farmers Coalition
Chicago Food Policy Action Council
The Climate Economy Education Inc
Illinois Environmental Council
The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship
Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT
Izaak Walton League
The Land Connection
Liberty Prairie Foundation
The Nature Conservancy in Illinois
Prairie Rivers Network
Seven Generations Ahead