Verónica Mazariegos-Anastassiou, co-founder of Brisa Ranch in California, is advocating for a better food and agriculture system in the United States that supports young and beginning farmers. She began working with the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) in 2020, and the following year, NYFC selected her as a 2021 California Political Leadership Fellow.
For Mazariegos-Anastassiou, farming is a political act, and through her advocacy work, she wants to see more than just symbolic gestures towards sustainable and equitable farming. She is a member of the California Farmer Justice Collaborative, which is focused on the different needs of the state's farmers and land stewards. One of her main goals is to see the 2023 Farm Bill address responsible land management and natural resource conservation, so that farming can work together with conservation, not against it.
Mazariegos-Anastassiou also wants to increase land access for new and beginning farmers. She acknowledges that land ownership is currently the only way for young farmers to have a sense of agency and stability in the system, but she also feels conflicted about the notion of owning land. She believes that making it easier for young farmers to buy land, or providing incentives for landowners to welcome young farmers, could help address this issue.
According to a recent survey from NYFC, 59 percent of young farmers report that it is very or extremely challenging to find affordable land. That is why the Coalition launched the One Million Acres for the Future Campaign, calling on congress to invest US$2.5 billion in the 2023 Farm Bill to help the next generation of producers access farmland.
Mazariegos-Anastassiou believes that her generation of farmers can leave a legacy that makes the decision to go into farming easier for others. She hopes that young people who are interested in working with the land to grow food don't feel like they have to sacrifice their livelihoods to do so.
Mazariegos-Anastassiou's advocacy work is focused on creating a more sustainable and equitable food and agriculture system that supports young and beginning farmers. She believes that the 2023 Farm Bill should address responsible land management and natural resource conservation, and that increasing land access for new and beginning farmers is crucial. With the One Million Acres for the Future Campaign, the NYFC is calling on congress to invest in the future of agriculture and help the next generation of producers access farmland.