Citizen Lobby Efforts Growing Influence on the Hill
by Kimberly Hartke, Weston A. Price Foundation Publicist
Someone who has a great deal of experience with estimating crowd size at events said that over 750 people filtered in and out of the Legislative Reception on Capitol Hill this past Wednesday. The National Independent Consumers and Farmers pulled off a successful lobby day and thanks to newly elected Senator, Dr. Rand Paul, were given a spectacular room for their Farm Food Tasting event.
The Kennedy Caucus Room, named in 2009 for the late Kennedy Brothers, Jack, Robert and Teddy has been the scene of dramatic Senate investigations. The Teapot Dome Scandal, the Sinking of the Titanic, the McCarthy and Watergate Hearings, all took place in this grand palace of a room. Gilded carvings, red velvet curtains and marble columns inspire awe as you enter this special place.
The speakers at the event gave voice to the current scandal in American agriculture, the armed raids against small farms and the danger to farm and consumer freedoms posed by the recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Jonathan Emord, Esq., Author of The Rise of Tyranny and Global Censorship of Health Information called for the citizen lobbyists to seek to get the bill repealed, so great is the danger to liberty and freedom of choice.
Bryan Voltaggio, chef/owner of acclaimed VOLT restaurant and season six runner-up of the TV series Top Chef spoke eloquently about his desire for freedom as a chef to choose to work with local, artisan producers. He explained that the success of a fine dining restaurant depends on the chef’s direct relations with enthusiastic, knowledgeable producers.
Kristin Canty shared her heartfelt concern for the farmers whose foods helped restore her sick child to health. When she realized these very farms were being targeted by the government for harassment and interference in their important work, she decided to document the trespass against these farmers in a documentary film, Farmaggedon, The War Against America’s Small Farms, which will be released this Spring. Kristin plans a premiere on Capitol Hill in hopes that many politicians and their staffers will come. When the date is firm, it will be posted on this blog.
Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farm served as emcee for the event with his usual good humor. He introduced Liz Reitzig, the event organizer and boasted about how hard she works every year to produce a stellar event. Liz is now pregnant with another child and you have to hand it to her, as a mom of 4 with one on the way, where does she get the energy?
Oh, I forgot, she’s powered by raw milk!
For the second year, Mark Lilly brought his Farm Market Bus. This year, he was able to park it right outside the Russell Senate Office building, so we could all go and tour the bus. Mark also had the artist, Happy the Artist there, whose artwork turned the bus into a fun mobile mural which promotes local foods. Mark explained how his studies at the University of Richmond created an interest in local sustainable food systems. He dropped out of school to pursue this passion.
I left Farm Food Voices with a car full of excited citizen lobbyists, who were energized and hopeful. Our movement is gaining traction, political savvy. We were told by a Senate staffer, “You are influential beyond your numbers, because what you are saying is good for the environment and you bring an important message.”
Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
This post is part of the Fight Back Friday blog carnival, hosted by Food Renegade.
See Kimberly’s previous Farm Food Voices story, which includes more details about the fabulous restaurants who catered this event.