We had a great time at our No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day on March 30. Thank you to all of you who came to the State Capitol in Albany to participate as well as those who joined us in spirit via Twitter and Facebook.
The Empire State Plaza and Capitol complex were alive with activity. While legislators gathered in the Senate and Assembly Chambers to discuss the budget agreement hammered out over the weekend by Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Silver, protestors chanted outside.
Our day kicked off at 7 am on the windswept Capitol Steps overlooking Albany where Capital Region YNN interviewed David Haight, our New York State Director who, when asked what we hoped to accomplish during the No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day as the countdown ticked down for the budget deal said:
Legislators need to make agriculture a priority today, when they are voting on the budget, and every day. I want to eat tomorrow and every other day of the year and so do all New Yorkers. So we need to take action to support our farms and support our local food.
By 10 am our group of nearly 200 land trust leaders, farmers, food advocates, local officials, chefs and other New Yorkers concerned with farms and food had assembled. David Haight along with Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Bill Magee, chairs of the Senate and Assembly Agriculture Committees respectively, addressed the group which then divided into 21 lobby teams and set out on over 120 legislative visits carrying the No Farms No Food® message.
At mid-day we shared a delicious local foods lunch prepared by Sodexo with the help of Chef Matt Weingarten of Manhattan’s Inside Park , who purchased many of the ingredients at the Union Square Greenmarket. One of the highlights of the meal was the Mixed Grain & Charred Leek Salad featuring grains from Cayuga Pure Organics.
The lunchtime program featured remarks from: Commissioner of Agriculture Darrel Aubertine; Reverend Robert Jackson of the Brooklyn Rescue Mission; Richard Ball from Schoharie Valley Farms; and retired Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau whose family owns and operates a farm in the Hudson Valley.
At the end of a long day we came together and in closing enjoyed a song about farming written and performed by John Shoemaker called “Precious Things” and a No Farms No Food® slide show presented by photographer Dietrich Gehring.
Late that night, after all the No Farms No Food® Rally participants had returned home to New York City, Buffalo, Syracuse, Long Island and almost every county in between, the legislature voted to approve the 2011-2012 budget, increasing funding for farmland protection for the first time in three years and restoring funding to numerous agricultural programs that were in danger of being eliminated during budget negotiations.
Good work everybody!
- Newly Adopted State Budget Sustains Critical Funds for Farms, Local Food & Saving Farmland
- Lisa Tucker, editor of EdibleBuffalo and co-founder of the Field to Fork Network writes in Edible Buffalo’s blog “The three messages we took to the legislators on Wednesday demonstrated the interconnectedness of food, farming, food security, health, the economy, and the environment and why farmland protection is a key component of all these.”
- Sonya Gropman, blogger for EdibleQueens, describes her day lobbying in Albany with “rural farmers, urban farmers, community activists, food activists, environmentalists and just plain old New Yorkers who all shared a common sentiment: preserving New York farmland.”
- Read Hudson Valley blogger Didi Barrett’s take on the No Farms No Food® Rally and the need to link farmers with urban communities at her blog Didi’s Diner Dialogues.
- Tune in to The Farm Report’s Erin Fairbanks as she and David Haight, our New York State Director recap the 2011 No Farms No Food® Rally.