To the editor:
Sarah Henning’s Aug. 7 story (“Funding channels for Farm Aid in Kansas lack adequate cultivation”) points out the need for stronger family farm networks throughout the state. We know that Kansas farm groups haven’t been looking to Farm Aid for help as much in recent years, but with our annual benefit concert set for this Saturday in Kansas, we look forward to bringing family farm advocates together to learn more about our organization.
As Ms. Henning noted, the work of Farm Aid goes far beyond distributing grants. In addition to programs like the Farmer Resource Network, the Farm Aid Hotline, and HOMEGROWN.org, Farm Aid educates the public and policy makers about what we hear on our hot line every day. In July, Farm Aid went to the White House to call for more accessible and affordable credit for farmers and a level playing field for poultry and livestock producers.
Farm Aid accomplishes all of this with an overhead rate that is below the percentage recommended by charity watchdogs and staff salaries that are below average for similar organizations. According to Charity Navigator, the median nonprofit CEO salary was more than $147,000 in 2008; Farm Aid’s executive director earned $39,026 in 2009.
Distributing grants is important — it helps those in urgent need and establishes and sustains organizations across the country — but creating long-term solutions requires more than money. It requires establishing an agricultural system that ensures farmers a fair living, strengthens our communities, protects our natural resources and delivers good food for all.