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I belong to... Farm Aid: Tony Azevedo

PD Staff Published on 10 December 2013

1813pd_belong_azevedo

Age: 61

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Location: Stevinson, California

History of your dairy farm, in a nutshell: My father was a dairy farmer in the San Joaquin Valley, starting the operation in the early 1950s.

He was an immigrant from the Azores Islands. ... I started my dairy, Azevedo Organics, by the late 1980s.

It got pretty hard to stay in the dairy business, so we started an entertainment business on the ranch and hosted carriage marriages off the ranch. …

We’ve continued with the entertainment industry – the Double T pretty much saved the farm – but have maintained a certain size to feed the family. … We have about 400 acres and rent another 200; we have about 750 head and milk around 300 head.

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I had the first organic dairy in the San Joaquin Valley about 20 years ago. I decided that it was basically dairying like my father once had dairied.

Your basic crop is pasture, and it’s very difficult to remember some of the remedies, because organic dairying is three things: no added hormones, antibiotics or pesticides. That’s how my father dairied before me, but it was an experience to learn how he did it.

How long have you worked with Farm Aid? Organic Valley, a cooperative, has been connected with it for years. I always felt that Farm Aid was a good cause. My co-op has some of the same philosophies I have – trying to educate the consumer and preserve our way of life.

In what ways do you contribute to Farm Aid? Through Organic Valley, which provides funds and sets up booths at the concerts, etc.

Farm Aid is different than other relief organizations because ... it doesn’t ask any questions; no matter if you’re an organic farmer or conventional farmer, they appreciate your help. It’s a group of artists and farmers trying to give back to the farmer.

A member of Farm Aid who is inspiring is … Willie Nelson, but there are others. Anyone who is willing to contribute their time or money in order to save farmers is to me somewhat of a hero.

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Who’s your favorite Farm Aid musician? Willie Nelson. I want to meet him one day.

The best thing about working with Farm Aid is … knowing we are helping other farmers, no matter what they farm.

How has working with Farm Aid helped your business? It has allowed me to help others. I’ve never been in a position to call up Farm Aid and say I need money. Maybe that’s coming. I hope not.

But any time you have an opportunity to help other farmers, no matter what they farm, I’m happy to help an organization that does that. I’m grateful our cooperative has made the decision to be a part of that.

I know that Farm Aid makes an impact because … there are farms and farmers in need of help, and through Farm Aid we are able to alleviate some of those burdens.

I see a bright future for Farm Aid because … it also connects with the public. If Farm Aid is attended by consumers, they become educated and help get the word out. I think that is very valuable. PD

1813pd_belong_azevedo_back Farm Aid
501 Cambridge St., 3rd floor
Cambridge, MA 02141
800-FARM-AID

Year founded: 1985

Impact: Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $43 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture, and promote food from family farms.

Mission statement:
Farm Aid’s mission is to keep family farmers on the land in order to guarantee an agricultural system that ensures farmers a fair living, strengthens our communities, protects our natural resources, and delivers good food for all.

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