Another neat media piece that is about my unpublished memoir “Muckville!”

The following piece was written by Ginny Privitar for the 4/5/13 edition of the Goshen Chronicle and is called “Chris Pawelski stirs the muck: Political insanity revealed in ‘Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.”

It is a very neat piece and also a favorite of Eve and I.

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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Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt’s Resolution recognizing my efforts on behalf of onion farmers and the onion farming industry in New York State

Back in 2013 Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt introduced a resolution that recognized some of my efforts in behalf of agriculture over the years. I actually discovered it one day by accident while surfing the internet. Annie intended to surprise me and I sort of ruined that.

I was totally floored and humbled by it. Truth be told, in all the years of my doing volunteer public policy work Annie and her staff have been one of the best elected officials and offices I have ever dealt with. Extremely pro-active and not easily deterred Annie and her team have accomplished a great deal in our behalf over the years, including along with Town of Warwick Supervisor Mike Sweeton getting the speed limit lowered on Pulaski Highway. That alone has saved lives in my opinion. But she has been a fantastic supporter and friend of farmers over the years.

Well, eventually in June Annie held a formal event to present the proclamation to me at one of my favorite places, the Quaker Creek Store. Below is the Resolution, a number of media pieces about it, and finally the link for the online version.

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!

Here is the link to the online version of the Resolution:

http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/K324-2013

Enjoy the articles!

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My memoir and search for a publisher …

I have a number of new blog and Twitter followers so I want to post again about my unpublished memoir … so … it’s written and gone through one edit but I need a publisher! If you know anyone interested in a book not only detailing what life is like on a working farm today … but is also interested how real, down to earth regular citizens can affect real change and get real positive public policy enacted … then this is the book for them!

Below is the text of an article from a local newspaper that details it … enjoy!

By Ginny Privitar
GOSHEN — Chris Pawelski, a fourth-generation Orange County onion farmer, once offered a bag of onions for sale on eBay for $150,000. He didn’t get any buyers. But his stunt was picked up by other news outlets and drew attention to the need for an adhoc crop loss program for the Eastern Seaboard after Hurricane Irene leveled crops.

It focused attention on the plight of farmers like himself, caught between the havoc wreaked by weather and the sometimes bewildering agricultural policies of the government.

Pawelski makes two to three trips a year to Washington, D.C., to advocate for farmers. When he’s out in the field on the tractor, he’s just as likely to be on the phone to someone in government. He even sued the USDA in Federal Court over crop insurance policy. He’s been interviewed, filmed and quoted by diverse sources including Crain’s New York Business, The New York Times, CNN, the CBS Evening News, BBC World Service News, and Univision, and been featured in The Hindu, the largest English-speaking newspaper in India.

He’s lobbied lawmakers and cabinet members, including Senator Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and current Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer. He was even quoted in an article in Vogue about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was at his farm for a farm bill meeting.

Now Pawelski can add another title to his resume: author. He’s written an often funny, readable, and informative book about his experiences: “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.” He describes it as a memoir — “An inside look at a farmer’s fight to influence ag policy in Washington D.C., and the oddities of life that happen along the way.”

He manages to explain government policy madness in easy-to-understand prose that will have you shaking your head in disbelief.

After a severe hailstorm in 1996, when the Orange County onion crop was devastated and farmers wanted to destroy the ruined crop, the government insisted on continuing to maintain it until they finally gave the go-ahead to destroy it. Pawelski’s book details the folly:

“Roughly 2,500 acres were directly hit by the hailstorm and all of the farmers impacted wanted to quickly destroy the crop and minimize their losses. But, we couldn’t do that. And what prevented us? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)….

In fact, not only were the farmers in our valley told that we could not destroy our crop and cut our losses, which again would have been the smart production move, but we were told we had to continue to care for the crop, to continue to spray it with fungicides and insecticides, to keep it free from weeds, etc., and if we did not care and maintain our crop we ran the risk of voiding our insurance claim and payment. So, even though the smart production practice, the wise farming decision would be to destroy the onions and cut our losses the USDA said no, we had to do the opposite, pour more money into it, or else.”

He can tell you, too, how the large chain stores dictate what kinds of onions they’ll buy, even if the size they want is not suited to growing conditions here. He also wonders why onion farmers here get $7.50 for a 50-pound bag of onions — only a little more than the $6 they received 30 years ago, in 1983.

Thanks to the ravages of weather and the government, Pawelski is in debt. He’d like to get his book published, and would welcome backers or an interested publisher.

A background in broadcasting

Pawelski started out on a very different career path, but one that made him uniquely suited for his present.

He attended the University of Iowa, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in broadcasting and film studies. He taught there for two years and also taught some summer semesters at Northwestern University, back in the 1980s.

However, he found himself drawn back to farming, back to Orange County. He and Eve took up farming on 50 acres, alongside his father and brother’s land, in 1993.

But as he says, his degree has come into play in dealing with the media.

“I’m using it extensively for that, not the way I expected it to be,” he said.

He and his wife, Eve, have spent a good deal of the last 16 years involved with public policy advocacy on behalf of farmers and agriculture. He credits his wife with being an equal partner in bringing about some startling improvements in our agricultural policy.

“Nothing I’ve done has been by myself; everything is done jointly with my wife, Eve.” Eve works for the Chester school district, and her salary is an important counterpoint to the financial vagaries of farming.

“We’ve had seven 50-year floods in the last eight years,” Pawelski said, “I’m $250,000 in the hole due to those floods.”

Pawelski estimates that, since 1996, approximately 15 to 20 onion farmers have left farming in the county.

He would like to see the waterways dredged to avoid repeated crop destruction, including the Roundout creek and Hudson and Walkill Rivers.

“The last comprehensive study was done in 1983, and they recommended dredging,” he said. “At the time, Congress didn’t have the money. The Army Corps of Engineers said they’d come back, but they didn’t.”

The Pawelskis are responsible for a $10 million earmark specifically for Orange County onion farmers in the 2002 Farm Bill), changes in crop loss policy, and the creation of a new $50 million Conservation on Muck Soils program passed in the 2008 House version of the Farm Bill, but not the Senate version. It is currently under consideration for inclusion in the 2014 Farm Bill. They’ve brought about changes to the onion crop insurance policy, including doubling the insured expected market price. Chris even testified before the US Senate Ag Committee on crop insurance reform in 2010.

One after another

In 2011, the Pawelskis’ onion crop was wiped out by Hurricane Irene, prompting the eBay experiment. But that wasn’t their first brush with disaster. In 1996, the Pawelskis’ crop was wiped out by a hailstorm. Other weather-related disasters occurred in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

In 1996 the couple began to work with elected officials to secure special appropriations for onion farmers in Orange County. Finally, after six years of hard work spearheaded by then-Congressman U.S. Rep. Ben Gilman, the $10 million special earmark passed in the 2002 Farm Bill. As Pawelski said, “The night we learned it finally would be included and passed I cried like a baby. But I also told my wife that I knew, all along, we would succeed.”

Pawelski is effective in the halls of government. He doesn’t just complain, he comes up with solutions. And he knows how to get things done. As legislator Tom Pahucki, when asked what makes Pawelski so effective, said, “His genuine concern for the betterment of the agriculture industry makes him who he is. He works very hard for the people in agriculture and is effective. If it weren’t for him a lot of the policies in place and on the drawing board wouldn’t be there, except for him.”

Maire Ullrich, Agriculture Program leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension has known Pawelski for years. She said, “He’s helped other farmers by providing information to legislators about the realities… His education is in communication, so he’s very adept at making an argument and [has] all the skills and art that go with that. He’s outgoing, willing to work with every legislator. He’s very knowledgeable about the government system and how it works. It’s his personality and intelligence that builds his effectiveness.”

Rick Zimmerman, former Director of Public Policy for the New York Farm Bureau, and now a private consultant and agriculture advocate, said, “He’s very passionate, very intelligent and makes it his business to understand the details of the issues he get engaged with and one thing that distinguishes him from others is that he comes up with solutions to problems; some of the issues are very complex but through his understanding he can formulate issues that are reasonable and solve the problems. He works hard to find solutions and advocates for solutions.”

But perhaps his best accolades were offered by his wife, Eve:

“Much of what Chris does heavily involves his day-to-day networking to educate local, state and federal representatives, as well as the media, on policies that will improve the conditions for farmers and their workers. It is Chris’s consistent, unrelenting dedication to help farmers that I see from very early in the morning ‘til late at night that I am most proud of. More than one person has asked me over the years when he sleeps.

“The amount of effort he has put into agricultural labor issues over the years on state and federal levels is phenomenal. Most recently, he has written a white paper detailing changes to the guest worker program, which are currently under consideration for inclusion in immigration reform. It takes years to effect change. It is Chris’s ability to conceive of realistic solutions to agricultural problems and then relentlessly work to see them implemented that consistently amazes me. Without him I would have grown tired and quit a long time ago. He never seems to tire.”

The Pawelskis plan to begin planting this year’s onion crop by the end of the week. Of course, that depends on the right weather conditions. If they plant and it stays cold and or gets too dry, the soil could dry out, and some of it can blow away. Pawelski monitors different weather blogs and websites. It’s safe to say that this week, as always, he’ll be keeping an eye out.

Editor’s note: Chris Pawelski’s can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/ChrisPawelski?feature=mhee or reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisPawelski.

– See more at: http://chroniclenewspaper.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130404/NEWS01/130409992/Chris-Pawelski-stirs-the-muck#sthash.4IQQqZLL.dpuf

About my book project and search for a publisher …

You may not have noticed but I have an “About My Book” page on my blog. If you haven’t the text for it is below. It is what I wrote to describe it for my failed Kickstarter project (I did that at the wrong time).

Since I wrote it I now have a fantastic editor, Penny Steyer, who has actually read the entire 100K word draft and made a number of initial edits. Eve and I are going over it and will be meeting with her shortly to move forward.

But, we still are looking for a publisher. It is an odd book in that it doesn’t fit certain or typical farming related topics. For example, the newbie who lives in the city and moves to the country and becomes a farmer. My book is about both conventional farming as well as the nuts and bolts details of dealing with the legislative process, working with the media and accomplishing really good from the grassroots or ground level.

A lot of people complain about the system, but how many understand how it works, and how you can actually accomplish good? My book details that. It’s funny, sometimes irreverent, and mostly entertaining and informative. I wrote it with the idea of it becoming eventually a film or tv project. I think it has that potential.

So, if you are a publisher looking to take a chance on something just a wee bit different but very provocative and entertaining … well, you know how to reach me!

Here is a link to an excellent local news piece that talked about my project:

http://chroniclenewspaper.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130404/NEWS01/130409992/Chris-Pawelski-stirs-the-muck

Here is the description found on my “About My Book” page:

I’ve written a memoir about my experiences on our 4th generation family onion farm and my very active volunteer public policy/advocacy experiences over the years (http://bit.ly/SGwZb8). I’m an outstanding researcher, a fantastic first draft writer but not a very good editor. My wife typically edits my work but this memoir is just too long (over 106K words) and personally too painful for her to tackle. Remember “The Farmer’s Wife” documentary that ran on PBS a few years ago (http://to.pbs.org/aUdsi)? The shared experiences and similar pain made it too hard for my wife to watch (see: http://bit.ly/WcHTrM). So, since my memoir details some painful memories my wife can’t do it. I need to hire an editor and being over $250K in the hole makes hiring an editor impossible without help (http://bit.ly/wpxL5z).

Once my first draft is edited it will be far more likely a book publisher or a literary agent will take it on. Now, obviously there are no guarantees that it will be published, but, I can assure you I’m a very good writer and I have had numerous unique experiences over the years, including securing a $10 million dollar special earmark that was part of the 2002 Farm Bill, testifying before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, meeting and working with dozens of elected officials, including former Senator Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, current Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, amongst many others. I’ve also appeared in the media hundreds of times over the years, from the national press like CNN and the CBS Evening News and the NY Times to various trade publications and local press, to recently The Hindu and the BBC. I’ve even been quoted in Vogue (http://bit.ly/OqeFeJ). Now, come on, how many farmers do you know quoted in Vogue? Just google my name to see how often I’ve appeared in the media.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in a speech delivered back in December of 2012, said:

“It isn’t just the differences of policy. It’s the fact that rural America with a shrinking population is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country, and we had better recognize that and we better begin to reverse it.” http://yhoo.it/VTM2fJ

I think he’s dead wrong, and it is exactly the opposite of what I relate in my book. We in rural America have been and continue to be relevant.

And my book is a positive story, because if you watch the cable talk shows and read people like Matt Taibbi (who I like very much) you walk away with the impression that the average citizen like you and I can never cause positive change, not without spending a lot of money. Well, no one has ever paid me, I have never donated anything to any politician. Not once have we ever been asked to do a fund raiser or donate, or even vote for the public official we work with. Hard to believe, but true. My story is in the end a positive, uplifting narrative.

Further, farmers and farming stories are really under-represented in the general media. I explain what is involved to grow and sell an onion, and how much, or rather, how little we make. It’s an inside story, one that chain stores don’t want the average consumer to know. I want to tell that story, to an even wider audience, hence why I have written the book and look to make it a commercial success.

I have a story that needs to be told. I’ve done the hard part in terms of the research and writing the first draft. That’s done. I’m almost to the finish line. Can you help me cross it by helping me edit and complete the work, making it more marketable to a literary agent or publishing house?

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