At noon on Tuesday, March 21, on the National Mall between 4th and 5th Streets – WERE YOU THERE?
AURORA—They feed and clothe the nation, yet some struggle to feed and clothe their own families. That’s the simple version of the story two generations of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) members took to Washington, D.C., March 20-21, as they joined family producers from throughout the nation for the Rally for Rural America.
The 18-member RMFU group included three parent-teenage child groups: Jerry and Justin Hergenreder of Longmont, Colo.; Jan and Mike Kochis of Matheson, Colo.; and Tom and Trent Lauridson of Eastlake, Colo. Jerry Hergenreder, who farms in three different Colorado counties, says farming should be a viable business, a task that had has become increasingly difficult with rising input prices and commodity prices similar to what they were in 50 years ago. Jerry’s son, Justin, is taking vocational agricultural classes through his high school, but Jerry says it is difficult to encourage Justin to pursue farming given the current economic realities.
“As a businessman, it makes more sense to sell the land for development than to continue to take large financial risks every year in hopes of making a profit on the commodities we raise,” said Hergenreder.
Hergenreder believes government should play a role in stabilizing volatile farm prices and limiting food imports. If it does not do so, he believes there is no future for young farmers like his son. He hopes his trip to Washington encourages the nation’s leaders to consider changes to federal farm and trade policies.
“I’m asking our members of Congress and administrators to tell me what I can tell my son to make him think he has a viable future in agriculture,” Hergenreder said.
Jan Kochis, whose family farms and ranches near Limon on the land homesteaded by her husband’s grandfather, also hopes measures can be taken soon to make production agriculture economically viable.
“My husband is the third generation, Michael would be the fourth generation to live (and work) here,” Kochis said. “We are hoping to survive, which is the reason we’re in Washington.”
The Rally for Rural America, which was actually a series of events over a two-day period, was held the first two days of National Agriculture Week, March 20-24. The two-day event included a news conference, a prayer service for rural America and a farmer’s share luncheon in which members of Congress and other guests were educated on the farm price compared with the selling price of luncheon menu items. The Rally for Rural America culminated in a Capitol Mall rally featuring farmers and members of Congress who wish to raise the awareness of the U.S. farm crisis.
Other adult RMFU members who participated in the Rally for Rural America included: Fred Macy, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.; Marvin Schmidt, Riverton, Wyo.; Jim and Dorothy Brophy, Yuma, Colo.; Dave Carter, Westminster, Colo.; and Andrea Clark, Aurora, Colo.