Onion World Magazine December 2012 “Planting Seeds for Sound Agricultural Policies!”

Of the hundreds of media pieces we have appeared in over the years, this too is a favorite, from the December 2012 Onion World Magazine the article by Eric Woolson entitled “Planting Seeds for Sound Agricultural Policies.”

Link for the article online: http://reader.mediawiremobile.com/ColumbiaMediaGroup/issues/104444/viewer?page=1

It is a fantastic article well written by Eric (an Iowa man, though he went to the University of Northern Iowa vs being a Hawkeye, but that’s close enough!) that nicely re-caps some of the more interesting things we have worked on over the years in terms of public policy and fighting in behalf of farmers.It also contains a number of neat pictures, including the cover photo taken by our son Caleb. Below you can see the article, including a second cover.

If you look closely at that cover you see it is signed by someone … former Senator & Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Here is the story behind that signing … back in September I was down in DC for numerous meetings and to attend Sen. Gillibrand’s Ag Working Group & NY Farm Day reception. It is a fantastic event first started by Sen. Clinton and continued by Sen. Gillibrand, who is the first New Yorker to sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee in some 40+ years. It is coordinated by Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. Jim is a wonderful human being and a good friend who does a spectacular job year in and year out in regards this and numerous other functions (http://www.winejudging.com/bios/jim_trezise.htm).

Well, at this year’s event I happened to run into an old friend who used to work for Senator/Secretary Clinton. As we chatted and briefly caught up I pulled a copy of this issue out of my bag to show him, since it had a picture of Eve and Jonah with former President Clinton. I laughed and said “I’m sure the President has been featured a few times in “The Onion” but I bet he never thought he would be in “Onion World.” He laughed. I then asked him if he wouldn’t mind giving a copy to them, in case they hadn’t seen it. Plus they might get a good laugh out of it. He happily agreed.

About a month later we received an envelope in the mail from the former Secretary. When I opened it I was surprised to see the magazine and was sort of disappointed it was returned. But then when I got to the top I saw why, it had the very gracious signature. Very cool!

As I have mentioned multiple times previously my campaign to raise funds for an editor will be featured in an upcoming episode of the new Crowd Funder Show.

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1efvb/ab/72OxNc

What is the Crowd Funder Show and what does it mean to appear on the show? According to their website:

The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability. Each episode focuses the spotlight on six or seven inspiring projects and personal goals that give the viewing audience insight into the campaign, its principal, and the reason(s) why it should come to fruition. The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability.

What is so neat about their crowd funding method, versus Kickstarter’s, is that it is not “all or nothing.” Further, the rewards are much more exciting. Again, from their website:

Viewers can choose to support the projects they watch by contributing directly to the campaign website or by calling a toll-free number. The Crowd Funder Show rewards contributors with sponsored gift cards for the same amount of money they contribute, up to $100. Supporting people and their projects has never been easier so it’s no wonder you can’t help but feel like you’re a part of something special. The Crowd Funder TV Show is an interesting, inspiring program that highlights human ingenuity and co-operation.

When you go to my page you will see locations once can choose from for the gift card include: Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot and Toys R Us. So, if you plan on doing any shopping at any of these locations anyway you are essentially donating to my cause for free. A total win-win!

Enjoy the article!

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More old media pieces featuring our family and farm

Here are some more older media pieces we have been featured in over the years and actually a number of my favorites. They include:

Numerous pieces that ran in the Times Herald-Record:

“Onion Industry in Doubt” 10/12/02 by Dave Richardson and photos by Tony Savino

“Life of An Onion” 9/14/03 photos by Tony Savino

“Black Dirt farmers struggle to survive” 6/21/09 by Christian Livermore and photos by John DeSanto

Also included is:

The New York Times article (10/24/07) “From New York’s Black Dirt, A Glacial Secret Told by Onions” by Matt & Ted Lee with photos by Suzanne DeChillo

The American Vegetable Grower cover story from the 9/98 issue “Crop Insurance Coming Up Short: NY Onion Growers Left Holding The Bag” by Richard Jones. This article was CRUCIAL to getting many of the changes we were able to get accomplished with the federal crop insurance program.

Two pieces that appeared in Crain’s NY Business by Lisa Fickensher, one about my $150,000 for a 50lb bag of onions on eBay and “Struggling farmers digging out of debt” with an incredible photo by Buck Ennis and Ian-Duncan Ball. This piece, along with the Jones, Lee and Livermore pieces, is one of my all-time favorites. It is a fun, well written piece.

Finally there is an article from the Warwick Valley Dispatch on 9/1/10 by Katie Bisaro (text and photos) entitled “Senator Gillibrand Meets Local Farmers.”

As I have mentioned multiple times previously my campaign to raise funds for an editor will be featured in an upcoming episode of the new Crowd Funder Show.

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1efvb/ab/72OxNc

What is the Crowd Funder Show and what does it mean to appear on the show? According to their website:

The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability. Each episode focuses the spotlight on six or seven inspiring projects and personal goals that give the viewing audience insight into the campaign, its principal, and the reason(s) why it should come to fruition. The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability.

What is so neat about their crowd funding method, versus Kickstarter’s, is that it is not “all or nothing.” Further, the rewards are much more exciting. Again, from their website:

Viewers can choose to support the projects they watch by contributing directly to the campaign website or by calling a toll-free number. The Crowd Funder Show rewards contributors with sponsored gift cards for the same amount of money they contribute, up to $100. Supporting people and their projects has never been easier so it’s no wonder you can’t help but feel like you’re a part of something special. The Crowd Funder TV Show is an interesting, inspiring program that highlights human ingenuity and co-operation.

When you go to my page you will see locations once can choose from for the gift card include: Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot and Toys R Us. So, if you plan on doing any shopping at any of these locations anyway you are essentially donating to my cause for free. A total win-win!

Enjoy the articles!

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More older media pieces about Eve and I from many years ago

Here are some pictures of some additional older media pieces from many years ago. One is a profile of Eve and I from NY Farm Bureau’s previous publication called “Gambling With Nature,” a couple of articles from the Times Herald-Record written by their great reporter Chris McKenna (with very nice photos from Tom Bushy and Lucy Pemoni), and finally a photo and brief blurb from the National Onion Association publication.

As I have mentioned multiple times previously my campaign to raise funds for an editor will be featured in an upcoming episode of the new Crowd Funder Show.

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1efvb/ab/72OxNc

What is the Crowd Funder Show and what does it mean to appear on the show? According to their website:

The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability. Each episode focuses the spotlight on six or seven inspiring projects and personal goals that give the viewing audience insight into the campaign, its principal, and the reason(s) why it should come to fruition. The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability.

What is so neat about their crowd funding method, versus Kickstarter’s, is that it is not “all or nothing.” Further, the rewards are much more exciting. Again, from their website:

Viewers can choose to support the projects they watch by contributing directly to the campaign website or by calling a toll-free number. The Crowd Funder Show rewards contributors with sponsored gift cards for the same amount of money they contribute, up to $100. Supporting people and their projects has never been easier so it’s no wonder you can’t help but feel like you’re a part of something special. The Crowd Funder TV Show is an interesting, inspiring program that highlights human ingenuity and co-operation.

When you go to my page you will see locations once can choose from for the gift card include: Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot and Toys R Us. So, if you plan on doing any shopping at any of these locations anyway you are essentially donating to my cause for free. A total win-win!

Enjoy the articles!

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Two other old media pieces, pictures in Hudson Valley Magazine & Orange Magazine

Here are two other older media pieces I dug up, one is a picture of my dad that ran in Hudson Valley Magazine and the other is from the Premiere Issue of Orange Magazine.

The first picture is of my dad was taken by photojournalist Nihal Mahawaduge & ran in the January 2001 issue of Hudson Valley Magazine. It is a fantastic picture and the precursor of the long photo piece that would run in March.

The second picture was in the Premiere edition of Orange Magazine, which debuted December 2007-January 2008.

I still remember when the reporter, Joe Bevilacqua called to interview me. He tried to explain what the outlet was and I didn’t quite understand. He then had a series of off the wall questions he asked me. i answered them best I could, with a laugh. The interview took place during harvest time, one night after work.

I was later photographed by awesome photographer Chris Ramirez, who is good friends with my cousin Adam Kurtz and had taken pictures of me before for the Times Herald-Record. I went straight from work to a studio space in Warwick. You can see I’m dirty in the picture. He said it was okay if I was dirty.

Quite an honor to be in the Premiere issue!

Since I am in the midst of my Crowd Funder Show campaign to fund an editor for my memoir … that deals with stuff like this … I had to mention it!

Please support my Crowd Funder campaign for raising funds for a professional editor for my memoir. For every dollar you contribute you get a matching dollar for dollar gift card from places like Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot and Toys R Us, amongst others.

Can you support a small family farmer who does public policy work by getting his memoir ready to be published?

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1efvb/ab/72OxNc

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Hudson Valley Magazine “The Onion Fields” by photojournalist Nihal Mahawaduge

Back in 2000 or so our family was befriended by local photojournalist Nihal Mahawaduge. Nihal took dozens upon dozens of photos of us and did some stories in local media outlets that featured us in a 2 or 3 year period. One of the best pieces was the one you see below, featured in the March 2001 edition of Hudson Valley Magazine. What’s neat about it is that it takes a person chronologically through the growing season, explaining what we do step by step.

A neat article with some beautiful pictures by our friend Nihal!

Since I am in the midst of my Crwod Funder Show campaign to fund an editor for my memoir … that deals with stuff like this … I had to mention it!

Please support my Crowd Funder campaign for raising funds for a professional editor for my memoir. For every dollar you contribute you get a matching dollar for dollar gift card from places like Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot and Toys R Us, amongst others.

Can you support a small family farmer who does public policy work by getting his memoir ready to be published?

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1efvb/ab/72OxNc

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Successful Farming Magazine “Nothing to Hide”

I’m going to periodically post older articles and media pieces Eve and I and the family have been featured in over the years. Many of these, like this one, are not available in electronic format online.

This article, from the 11/00 issue of Successful Farming Magazine was written by veteran reporter Mike Holmberg and is entitled “Nothing to Hide.” It dealt with how we dealt with the media. It really is a great piece that has a great photo of me speaking with then (and still now) reporter with the Times Herald-Record Chris McKenna!

Enjoy!

Oh … since I am in the midst of my Crowd Funder Show campaign to fund an editor for my memoir … that deals with stuff like this … I had to mention it!

Please support my Crowd Funder campaign for raising funds for a professional editor for my memoir. For every dollar you contribute you get a matching dollar for dollar gift card from places like Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot and Toys R Us, amongst others.

Can you support a small family farmer who does public policy work by getting his memoir ready to be published?

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1efvb/ab/72OxNc

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Another small portion of my memoir …

The following is another brief excerpt from my yet unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.” This small section of my memoir deals with the backstory to 3 different media pieces I was in back in 2000.

In late March of 2000 I was invited to go down to Washington D.C., to be video interviewed by the Senate Democrat Policy Committee (this was due to Brooke recommending me to the Committee). The video interview would be incorporated into a video that highlighted the committee’s positions regarding the upcoming Farm Bill. They needed “b-roll” footage of me doing farm work for the video so prior to my trip I got Cable 6 News to do a story about the trip, and to send their “b-roll” footage to the Committee, which they graciously did. In that piece I pointed out that in 1999 I had 50-100 buy-up coverage (50% of my crop, in theory, is supposed to be covered at 100% of the expected price) but despite in real world terms I lost at least 75% of my crop my insurance indemnity was $0 and we only expected roughly $6,000 from the ad-hoc crop loss program passed the previous year. The $0 indemnity was due to “Production to Count,” the facet of the program that subtracts from your indemnity what you salvage from your crop.

I was video interviewed in the atrium of the Senate Hart Office Building. What was fascinating to me were the questions asked by the video interviewer. I expected it to be very partisan, attacking the Republicans. But they weren’t at all. Instead the questions focused on how specialty crop farmers, growers of vegetables and fruits, especially in the Northeast are often shortchanged when it comes to federal farm programs and federal farm policy. I never saw the completed video but they did send me the raw footage of my entire interview.

(Cable 6 story)

Shortly after this event took place, in mid May, we were once again contacted by CNN. They wanted to do a follow-up story to the previous 2 stories about the drought. It had somewhat lingered through the winter into the early spring. We were happy to be interviewed again and on May 16th, 2000, CNN reporter Maria Hinojosa along with her crew arrived to interview Eve and me. She too was extremely kind and friendly. I immediately mentioned that I used to listen to her on NPR and she was taken a bit aback. She asked, almost incredulously, “you’re a farmer … you listen to NPR.” I laughed and replied that indeed I did, and rattled off a number of show, “All Things Considered,” “Morning Edition,” “Talk of the Nation,” etc … and named a number of other public radio reporters and personalities. She was a bit in shock. I remember telling her I enjoyed Ray Suarez on “Talk of the Nation.” Suarez had just left, to go to be a correspondent for the “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” and that he seemed a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera (he does quite well now).

The interview focused on the continuing drought and once again highlighted we personally lost $150,000 the previous season. I stated:

“We’ve had some decent rains recently and things are going well now, but if the spigot is shut off, like it was last year, we’re going to be in a load of trouble.” 

The irony was that 2000 turned out being an excessively wet season. There was no specific storm or event, but it was exactly opposite of what happened the previous season. The excessively wet season caused an excessive amount of decay or waste with that season’s onion crop, and we once again took a devastating financial beating. That meant 4 out of 5 seasons were terrible years for the majority of growers in the Black Dirt.

One last humorous anecdote about the Hinojosa interview, after she and her crew departed, about a half hour later she called me on her cell and she asked:

I was wearing open toed shoes … do I have to worry about ticks and lyme disease since my feet were exposed?”

I replied:

Oh, you don’t have to worry about that Maria, with the crap I spray you don’t have to worry about any ticks.”

You could almost see the blood drain from her face over the phone. I then laughed and said I was only joking, we hadn’t sprayed any insecticides yet and she was perfectly safe in the field. Heck, our 4 year old son Caleb was playing in that dirt (and a shot of that appeared in the news piece.) She laughed and was doubly relieved.

Yes, I’m a jerk, but I couldn’t help myself.

The story aired on May 16st  and May 17th  2000. It was another example of how the federal crop insurance program was deeply flawed. We used it, and the previous pieces, to make our case to improve the policy and to secure additional disaster aid. On July 6th, 2000 we helped organize with Cornell Cooperative Extension  a legislative tour of farms in Orange County. Representative. Gilman attended and we hit him hard in regards the need for disaster aid.

And as the rains continued to fall in 2000 it became evident that we were going to need a special supplemental disaster aid package. From this point on, Eve and I increased our efforts in regards to both goals. I can’t even accurately relate over the years, and especially from 1999 onward, how many phone calls, e-mails, faxes, posting on the internet, Eve and I did. Once, when Eve intended to call her parents in South Carolina she accidentally instead called Congressman Gilman’s Washington, DC number. And when Gilman’s Legislative Director Todd Burger answered she quickly realized her mistake and apologized to Todd. But since he was on the phone she quickly segued and said, “well, since you’re on the phone can you give me an update on the latest regarding the disaster aid?”