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Jess Wilson, Owner of Summer Fields Farm and In Town Organics, Meets with Senators – Urges Support for EPA Funding

“Having clean air and water is a crucial part of creating an environment where people want to live and raise their families.”

I am a farmer, a rural resident, and a mother of three. I founded In Town Organics and Summer Fields Farm, on which my family raises grass fed lamb and goats, pastured poultry, and produce in Monteagle –  because I love farm work and I care deeply about leaving this land better than I found it.  Farms should add to the beauty and health of rural communities by providing open space,  access to local foods, and by building soil which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and increases soil productivity for years to come.

Small farmers face a myriad of serious challenges which has lead to an ageing farm workforce and a very uncertain future for rural communities. Young and beginning farmers need access to land that is increasingly expensive, and capital for equipment. They need this at a time when they are also struggling to pay off student loans and make enough money to cover basic expenses, like health insurance.  These are real challenges. In all my time farming and talking and working with other farmers, I have never had a small farmer tell me that their biggest challenge was an EPA regulation. 

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Senators Corker and Alexander and members of their staff in Washington DC. Both Senators love this state and its beauty and purity and have stood up for common sense environmental protections in the past. I urge them to please do so again by protecting EPA funding.

Politicians in Washington have paid lip service to farmers to push their deregulation agenda for too long. I find it immensely frustrating that the Trump Administration claims to care about building rural prosperity while neglecting to fund infrastructure or access to services in rural areas. Slashing environmental protections that keep industries from causing harm to rural residents does not help small farms – it only helps industries and large agribusinesses to make quick profits while undercutting small farmers and defiling the local environment. Small rural communities succeed when they are places where people want to be–and having clean air and water is a crucial part of creating an environment where people want to live and raise their families.

If politicians insist on cutting funding for the EPA they need to acknowledge that they are doing it on behalf of industries and large agribusiness, and not on behalf small farms in Tennessee.  Small farmers like me are expecting Senators Corker and Alexander to be our voice in Washington.  The lands we farm, and that our communities depend on, are counting on them.