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A3. Agroecology

South Asian Peasant Movements and Civil Society urge their Governments to vote in favour of the UN Declaration

17 November 2018: In a letter sent on Saturday to Mr Syed Akbaruddin, Premanent Mission of India to the United Nations and copied to the Prime Minister and President of India, the Indian Farmers’ Movements and Civil Society organisations have urged the Government of India to fully support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, which will be discussed at the 73rd session of UN General Assembly in New York.

On a similar note, the Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation also sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, seeking support for the UN Declaration.

Here is the full text of the letter from India;

Shri. Syed Akbaruddin

Ambassador

Permanent Mission of India to The United Nations

New Delhi, November 2018

Re: Requesting Support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas at the United Nations General Assembly

Respected Shri Akbaruddin,

We are representatives of peasant organizations, civil society, activists, NGOs, and citizens from all corners of India. We are writing to request your full support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas which will be discussed at the 73rd session of UN General Assembly in New York.

The resolution to adopt the UN Declaration was recently passed at the 39th session of UN Human Rights Council after six years of intense talks (A/HRC/39/L.16)[1], with an overwhelming majority – 33 votes in favour of the Declaration. India has always been very supportive of the process and we fully appreciate that.

As you are well aware, the process was initiated by the Human Rights Council in September 2012 (UN Human Rights Council Resolution 21/19) — and the intergovernmental working group was formed following a report of the Advisory Committee recommending the adoption of a new international instrument in the form of a United Nations declaration to address the multiple human rights violations and discrimination suffered by peasants and other people working in rural areas. In 2012, a study[2] by the Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee (its body of experts), recognized peasants and other people living in rural areas as victims of discrimination and systematic violations of their human rights and recommended the adoption of a United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants and other peoples working in rural areas as well as the recognition of the right to land, among other rights, in order to better protect and promote their rights.

Therefore, this is an immensely important initiative for millions of peasants and other rural workers throughout the world.

Inclusive by design, the Declaration concerns not only peasants, but also fisher-folks, nomadic pastoralists, agricultural workers and Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations Declaration can undoubtedly contribute to better protecting the right to a decent livelihood in rural areas. It will also reinforce food security, solutions to climate change, and the conservation of biodiversity.

The UN General Assembly has a crucial role to play in ensuring the adoption of this declaration. This UN Declaration will reinforce the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. It would represent an important contribution to the efforts of the international community in favour of family farming, peasants and other peoples working in rural areas. This adoption will be in line with the initiatives of the United Nations General Assembly which, while recognizing the important contribution of family farming to feeding humanity (production of more than 80% of the world’s food), declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming and recently launched the decade of Family Farming from 2019-2028. The declaration will reinforce existing human rights standards.

As this UN Declaration will be voted on during the 73rd session of UN General Assembly, we urge India to vote in favor. We deeply appreciate that India has been supportive of this process so far. We would be grateful if you could encourage other Member States to support this Declaration.

CC

Smt Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs

Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice

Sincerely,

Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
Adivasigal Gothra Maha Sabha
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Delhi
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Haryana
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Himachal Pradesh
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Madhya Pradesh
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rajasthan
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Uttar Pradesh

Environment Support Group, Bengaluru
Focus on the Global South

Housing Land Rights Network
Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM)
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
IT For Change

Jai Kisan Andolan
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene (KRRS), Karnataka
Katch Sarpartra Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, Tamil Nadu
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, Kerala

MIJARC, India

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM)

Tamilnadu Organic Farmers Federation
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam (TVS) Tamil Nadu
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), New Delhi
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Tamil Nadu

Vanagam-Nammalvar Ecological agriculture training and research centre, Kadavur

Notes :

[1] http://undocs.org/A/HRC/39/L.16

[2] https://www.cetim.ch/legacy/en/documents/G1210803.pdf

Here is the scanned copy of the letter sent by the Bangladesh union;

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2018 Bellingham Declaration – US Food Sovereignty Alliance IV National Gathering Oct. 12th

Family Farm Defenders - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 18:48
The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) held its IV National Assembly from October 12th thru 14th in Bellingham, Washington with the participation of 117 members, allies, and individuals from 71 organizations and 7 countries.  The theme “Defending Mother Earth for … Continue reading →
Categories: A3. Agroecology

We need our countries to stand united FOR our rights, says Ramona Duminicioiu

Oral Statement of La Via Campesina at the Side Event on the Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, New York, United Nations, 14 November 2018

Introduction
Many thanks to all the country delegates present here from all the regions. I am a peasant from Romania, in the Eastern part of Europe. I will speak on behalf of La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement, for peasants and people working in rural areas living in the global north, in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as in other regions of this hemisphere. We would first like to thank all the countries for their work and for bringing us closer to the final stage of the peasant rights declaration process and we praise the very transparent and inclusive process, thanks to the efforts made by Bolivia.

We congratulate Europe, Western and Eastern Europe alike but also other countries of the North, for coming so far and for going so deep into the process with comments and analysis. Their participation in the debate is showing that these regions understand the importance of this Declaration and the need to safeguard the future of dozens of millions of peasants and rural workers from the Northern hemisphere.
We still have a rich peasant culture in this part of the world, but affected by poverty, with a shrinking space on the market or marginalized into an invisible economy, affected by massive economic migration, displaced or transformed by urbanization, with less and less opportunity for development, reducing the number of small family farms in certain regions, to a degree that makes it inaccessible for young small family farmers and pose potentially irreversible risks on food security. We produce food, feed our communities and our countries, facing systemic and systematic discrimination, unfair market practices, abuse, extreme labour exploitation and land grabbing. This declaration comes at the right time to fill the gaps of insufficient instruments that could protect and promote the rights of the vulnerable and affected communities of peasants and people working in rural areas. We, peasants, are a pillar of strength and we can be a driving force in a modern society, provided that our rights are recognized and respected, particularly the protection of social security, rights to means and methods of production, access to natural resources, recognition of traditional knowledge, the right to seeds, the right to land. Public policies need a stronger human rights approach and complementary instruments. We need to put the proliferation of human rights violations to the past, where they belong and we need to put human values in human rights.

Further arguments
The Declaration is built on existing rights and please allow me to give you just 3 examples of negotiated instruments that are at the basis of some of the most important rights elaborated in this Declaration: The Right to Food – which provided the general frame of the Declaration, the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security – which provides the basis for the Right to Land and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture – which is the substantial base of the Right to Seeds. Along the process, many experts have put together important analysis and studies, showing the coherence and consistency of the Declaration with other international instruments. But let me give you also my perspective as a seed producer.

This Declaration has the potential to contribute to facing the rising migrant crisis and once adopted, it can help to build more opportunities for young people in rural areas. Moreover, the Declaration would provide us with a necessary tool for contributing effectively to peace and development in our region, as peasant families are the first line of victims affected by conflicts.

Supporting the Declaration would be consistent with the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028) – resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, supported by an overwhelming majority of the UN countries, during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The Declaration serves not only farmers but also rural communities and consumers, given its holistic approach and the fact that peasants produce public services by feeding citizens from the urban areas and maintaining natural resources in a sustainable manner.

The Declaration provides a positive frame and long-term guarantee for future development for sustainable and economically viable agriculture. The small-scale model of production – promoted by the Declaration – is the basis of quality food, creates the majority of rural employment and manages natural resources in a sustainable way, responding to the climate change challenge, in an interconnected world.
Many international institutions, including European Union institutions, have worked very hard in this process and also there was great work done at the country level. I would name here the support of the European Parliament who adopted an important resolution (2017/2206(INI)) on 3rd of July 2018, calling for the EU and its Member States to support and vote in favour of the Declaration. A similar resolution was also adopted by the European Economic and Social Council, in February 2018. The Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food – Hilal Elver, showed constant support at all levels of the process and we extend also our gratitude to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, the regional FAO offices and also the FAO offices in Rome, Geneva and New York, for the tremendous support and arguments that link the Declaration with the realization of the Agenda2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Closing argument
So far we have witnessed a great diversity of positions in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as in other regions of the Northern hemisphere, with various opinions and discourses. We need our countries to stand united FOR our rights, we believe in you, as your role is important for us. A vote in favour would send a clear and needed positive message towards the rural communities of the entire world. We peasants and people who work in rural areas are important for the world. Please vote in favour of this declaration and join the rest of the world in building a better future for us peasants, who have been feeding the world and wish to continue to do so for the next generations!

For further information, you can contact Ramona Duminicioiu at ramona@eurovia.org /+40 746 337 022

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Growing for the Future Prepares Beginning Farmers for a Future in Agriculture

National Farmers Union - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 10:16
By Liza Ayers, NFU Intern Curious about resources available to get your new farm up and running? Want to gain business skills and exchange stories with fellow beginning farmers, all from the comfort of your own home? Join National Farmers Union for Growing for the Future, a FREE, interactive, virtual conference   December 3-6! This four-day […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology

Farmers’ varieties are essential to the future of food says new ZIMSOFF case study

 Summary: Increasing the availability of agro-biodiversity will become more and more important, not only in the pursuit of improved crop performance, but also in the context of adaptation to climate change, greater resilience, improved nutrition, maintaining the socio-economic balance of farming communities, and the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystem, asserts the new ZIMSOFF study on Farmer Managed Seed Systems in three selected districts of Mutoko, Zvishavane and Masvingo in Zimbabwe. The study is one of the six studies commissioned by GRAIN and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) for their recent report on “The real seeds producers: Small-scale farmers save, use, share and enhance the seed diversity of the crops that feed Africa”.

The study reports that smallholder farmers play a critical role in the maintenance and stewardship of biodiversity, including agricultural biodiversity. They actively select, adapt, and enhance agricultural biodiversity. Women, in particular, play this important role.

However, despite farmer managed seed systems (FMSS) being essential to the future of food, they are not well supported by the government. There are no policies and legislation for such seed systems. The current seed policies and laws being developed in Zimbabwe and across Africa and globally neither recognize nor support FMSS.

Download the ZIMSOFF Case study

Download main report by GRAIN and AFSA

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No one can teach the farmers what is good for us or can talk on our behalf, especially on GMOs

MVIWATA Press release

The Guardian Article titled ‘’New Push in Pipeline for acceptance of GMO seeds after successful trials’’ is a Propaganda Campaign

We have been shocked by a newspaper article titled ‘’New Push in Pipeline for acceptance of GMO seeds after successful trials “ which was published on the Guardian of 2nd November 2018 claiming that Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) has joined farmers across the country in pushing for changes to the existing agricultural laws to allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) seed varieties because they are drought resistant and can’t be easily destroyed by pests including armyworms. Furthermore, the reporting states that “the farmers are also said to have concurred that the use of GMO seeds will ensure bumper harvests while also boosting their own incomes”.

Clearly this article is misleading, unsubstantiated and wants to use farmers as a ploy to convince the public that farmers are in desperate need of GMO seeds which is completely untrue.

We are the national farmers’ organisation with members in all regions of Tanzania. We have debated in many forums on GMOs pros and cons and arrived at one conclusion that GMOs are not beneficial to the farmers and to the nation of Tanzania, economically and environmentally. In all our discussions, all of which have been attended by media, farmers have called for our Government not to allow GMOs to be used in the country for obvious reasons that neither farmers nor the nation shall benefit from GMOs. This position of farmers was crystal clear during our recent convergence of at least 2,600 farmers which was held in Morogoro, on 5 – 7 October 2018, in Morogoro.

We therefore ask the reporter to tell the public which “farmers across the country are pushing for changes to existing agricultural laws to allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) seeds” and which farmers have concurred that “the use of GMO seeds will ensure bumper harvests while also boosting their own incomes”. We challenge the reporter to come up with statistical evidences on these farmers the reporter is referring to especially since this article refers to the work of a scientific body, TARI.

Otherwise, the article in the Guardian, as the case is for the article in Mwananchi of 10 November 2018 titled “Mbegu ya Dhahabu: Mbegu za GMO zinavyoweza kuwaepusha Wakulima na Viuatilifu’ once again proves an ongoing media campaign and propaganda to misinform the public and promote GMOs for the interest of multinational companies while disregarding the Tanzanian national interests.

During the symposium to mark 3 years of President J.P. Magufuli at University of Dar es Salaam, the President said, when talking about Stigler’s Gorge, that “no one can teach us about environment”. Borrowing these words, certainly, no one can teach the farmers what is good for us and no one else can talk on our behalf, especially on GMOs.

We repeat our call to our Government not to allow GMO seeds to be used in our country since no one but multinationals stand to gain at the cost Tanzanian small holder farmers, our economy, our genetic resources and our health.

Download PDF press release

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Quilombo Campo Grande Camp, Brazil: Urgent Call for Solidarity

Message from The Landless Workers’ Movement MST

07 November, 2018

Dear comrades and friends

First of all, on behalf of the MST and the 450 families of Quilombo Campo Grande Camp, we thank all solidarity letters received against the eviction of our camp.

Unfortunately, during a hearing held on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 7, Brazilian *judge Walter Zwicker Esbaille Junior ordered the eviction of 450 families* who live in the area of the old Ariadnópolis mill owned by a bankrupt debtor in the city of Campo do Meio, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

He established a seven-day deadline to have his order executed.

The decision means destroying 1,200 hectares (nearly 3,000 acres) of corn, beans, manioc, and pumpkin crops, 40 hectares (roughly 100 acres) of agroecological gardens, and 520 hectares (more than 1,200 acres) of coffee crops. Not only that, hundreds of homes, corrals, and miles and miles of fences will be torn down.

The court order will destroy everything people have built in two decades of hard work.

According to the lawyers representing the families, the judge’s ruling is arbitrary and hurts constitutional principles by not recognizing values of human dignity. The hearing was unusual. Representatives of the families who live in the camp and authorities who traveled to attend it were not allowed in. While holding the session, the judge called the riot police to the room. Representatives of big farms and the local government wanted the families to be taken to a gymnasium. The judge eventually quickly rendered his judgement.

The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) is appealing this arbitrary, unfair decision. We reiterate our will to continue to struggle and resist yet another attack by the old mill.

The case is now in the State Justice Tribunal.

We are aware that the fascist inclinations of the project recently elected to run Brazil will lead to increasing use of State apparatus to criminalize us and segregate the landless people – as well as urban communities. But the Brazilian people is brave and strong. We have faced the military dictatorship since the birth of the movement. It’s with this story and this courage that the families living in Quilombo Campo Grande will resist and stay in the Ariadnópolis land. A preliminary injunction to remove them will not erase so many years of struggle.

Once more, we urge all organizations, supporters and friends to send the message below to the State Justice Tribunal Judge Nelson Missias de Morais, demanding that the repossession action to be dismissed:

gapre@tjmg.jus.br
contato@crdhsulmg.com.br

À atenção do Exmo. Sr. Juiz Nelson Missias de Morais

Venho me manifestar sobre a ação de restituição de posse n ° 0024.11.188.917-6 inscrita no dia 06/07/2011.

Peço que a ação de restituição da posse seja suspensa, já que existem 450 famílias, mais de 2.000 pessoas, que já estão na posse da área há mais de 20 anos. Essas pessoas têm casas construídas, vasta produção e reprodução da vida neste lugar.

A resolução do conflito só pode ocorrer com a permanência das familias, que já tem a posse da terra por direito.

Nós*[insert your name or name of your organization*], apelamos para que Voissa Excelencia resolva o conflito. Por justiça e em defesa dos princípios constitucionais, pela valorização da vida e da dignidade humana, apelamos!

Estamos diante da iminência de um massacre em Minas Gerais e você pode salvar essas vidas.

<Translation of the email above>

Dear Honorable Judge Nelson Missias de Morais,

The purpose of this e-mail is to express my concern about the action for repossession No. 0024.11.188.917-6 filed on June 17, 2011. I strongly and respectfully ask you to suspend the action for repossession, because there are 450 families, more than 2,000 people, who have been in possession of the area for more than 20 years. They have built their homes and their production and reproduction of life in that place.

The resolution of this conflict can only be successful if they stay where they are, as it is their right.

We [insert your name or name of your organization urge you to do this. For justice and in defense of constitutional principles, out of respect for human life and dignity, we urge you!

There can be a massacre in Minas Gerais and you can save those lives.

Recommended Reading;

ABOUT THE CASE: Who is Justice serving?

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Briefing on Rights of Peasants: Side Event, 14 Nov | ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters NY

The Permanent Missions of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, South Africa and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela along with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, co-sponsor this briefing.

WHEN:   03:15 PM,  14 November 2018 , Wednesday

VENUE: ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters NY

After years of participating and contributing to discussion on the Declaration in Geneva, a delegation of women and men representing the peasant organisations of Asia, Afria, Europe, Americas are in New York to accompany the adoption of the Resolution and will brief members states about the current situation of peasants around the world and their need for this instrument to be adopted.

Download the invitation to see the list of speakers at the event

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Information Note: UN Declaration on Rights of Peasants and Other People working in rural areas

Edition: October 2018

DOWNLOAD THE PDF VERSION

The adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in its 39th session on 28th of September 2018 is a fundamental step towards addressing discrimination and re-emphasizing the obligation of the state in this international norm. It is, then, the task and obligation of the UN General Assembly to endorse the protection of the livelihoods of peasants and all small food producers feeding the world.

Small-scale peasants are increasingly at risk and are often victims of forced evictions, violence and harassment. Existing legal instruments worldwide are scattered in various texts, out of reach for the population concerned, and fail to protect peasants and rural workers from on-going systematic discrimination and abuses, with rural women particularly affected. Thus, greater recognition and protection of their rights is a pressing issue. Addressing this is precisely the goal of the long process towards a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas: creating an international human rights instrument, improving the promotion and protection of their rights and drawing attention to the threats and discrimination suffered by peasants and people involved in small-scale food production across the world.

The UN Declaration was originally initiated by the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina (LVC) over 17 years ago, with other social movements, mainly supported by – FIAN International and CETIM (Centre Europe-Tiers Monde) within the UN.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF VERSION

Cover Image: FIAN

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Agroecology as a Tool of Sovereignty and Resilience in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

BY  | First published in Civil Eats

Even before Hurricane Maria devastated the island back in September 2017, Puerto Rico already imported 85 percent of its food. Local farming declined decades ago amid U.S.-led industrialization on the island, following a shift away from diversified small-scale farms to plantation agriculture. An ailing economy, austerity, and the fact that 44 percent of Puerto Ricans lived below the poverty line all deepened household food insecurity.

Facing a non-response from the federal government after the hurricane, residents joined forces to support one another and rebuild. And as part of the larger effort to restore Puerto Rico’s decimated farmland, some advocates have spent the last year helping vulnerable farmers become more resilient to future climate-fueled disasters.

Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica de Puerto Rico, a 28-year-old grassroots farmer and activist group, has led the charge. With an estimated 80 percent of the island’s crops wiped out, the group mobilized support brigades to assist food producers and used a grassroots, farmer-to-farmer approach to share knowledge about agroecological farming and food sovereignty.

The brigades organized volunteers to lend a hand to farmers in need, turning fields and gardens into hands-on classrooms and a spaces for social and political dialogue. Against the backdrop of and an uncertain death toll, which the government eventually raised to nearly 3,000, limited communications, and a blackout that lasted for months, they planted fresh crops, cleared fallen trees, opened roads, and rebuilt homes. And their effort is ongoing; after more than a year of slow reconstruction, tens of thousands still lack reliable electricity and adequate housing.

For the organizers behind Organización Boricuá, Maria also illuminated the challenges and inequalities of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. On the heels of a U.S. fiscal control board rolling out privatization and austerity to manage the island’s crippling $120 billion debt crisis, the U.S. government’s failure to effectively mobilize federal resources for disaster relief after the hurricane have become the new symbols of Puerto Rico’s colonial bind. In response, Organización Boricuá promotes sovereignty from the fields.

Civil Eats spoke to two Organización Boricuá members—Dalma Cartagena and Jesús Vázquez—at last week’s U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance national assembly in Bellingham, Washington, where the group won the Food Sovereignty Prize  The prize, created as an annual alternative to the World Food Prize and its celebration of market-driven responses to global hunger, spotlights national and international honorees who model and inspire grassroots solutions that democratize and transform the food system. The conversation below has been translated from Spanish, and edited for clarity and brevity.

Jesús Vázquez and Dalma Cartagena of Organización Boricuá. (Photo credit: David Hanson for WhyHunger)

What have been Organización Boricuá’s most important successes or impacts over its nearly three decades of work?

Jesús Vázquez: One of the biggest achievements has been organizing farmers, agricultural workers, peasants, activists, and educators—[bringing] people from different areas together for a more just, resilient, sustainable kind of agriculture, which for us is agroecology. We see agroecology as our tool of struggle to achieve food sovereignty.

What are the greatest challenges of working to advance food sovereignty in Puerto Rico and how have they changed since Maria?

Dalma Cartagena: I think the issue of education continues to be a challenge. Political training on the foundation of agroecology is also a challenge, which has become clearer after Maria. It’s about understanding that we have the capacity to be self-sufficient and produce our own food—healthy food—with fair processes for all, not just for human beings but also for the land, rivers, air, plants, and all biodiversity. We have to be aware that we are part of an agroecosystem. Raising this awareness within and beyond the organization in Puerto Rico is a challenge.

Has the Hurricane’s devastation opened up new possibilities to promote and advance sustainable  farming?

Vázquez: In addition to the bad it brought us, Hurricane Maria also opened our eyes. Especially for those whose eyes weren’t very open yet, caught up in the routine of trying to survive.

We have a direct relationship with the United States, supposedly one of the most biggest powers in the world. How can it be that it treats us this way? How can it be that the money FEMA collects [in part from Puerto Ricans] to do recovery work benefits North American companies in Puerto Rico and not Puerto Rican projects, organizations, institutions, or the Puerto Rican government itself?

The crisis makes our colonial context more evident. Despite the fact that we lost lives—which we should never hide, like the government did—we have to recognize that it is also an educational experience. And in our sector of  agriculture, agroecology, and food sovereignty, we have reflected a lot; we are preparing ourselves better, and we have realized that the best thing is the grassroots.

Have you been able to work on new projects, new solutions?

Vázquez: First of all, Maria was gigantic. Maria hit us diagonally from the southeast to the northwest with a perimeter almost as big as the island, with a lot of force. We started doing what we know, which is the support brigades. But we are in a reflection stage within the organization to formalize our processes. The committee on education and activism, for example, is working on a formal agroecology school.

The organization also created a process of local certification [English translation here] that tells USDA Organic there is a different way. We want to carry out the inspections ourselves in our own way, listening to peasant farmers regardless of whether they are agronomists or not.

And the farmer support committee, which manages the brigades, continues projects within the organization, but also for people, projects, or other communities that ask for help. The organization goes to the farmers [to help them in their fields].

Why did the support brigades start, who benefits, and what are their short- and long-term goals?

Vázquez: We say the brigades are Organización Boricuá’s organizing and educational methodology. We are a grassroots membership, and we have members in different regions of Puerto Rico. The brigades are open to the public in general, not just members. Some people join and go to an agroecological farm for the first time, and a relationship of solidarity between producer and consumer starts.

The brigades offer a way to reach new people. They also offer support to farmers who are behind and need help. Thirty people arrive, many of them with experience in agriculture, and the work it would have taken the family one month to do gets done in one day. The work moves forward, it’s a space for reflection, discussion, a workshop—it has an educational function. And it is replicated from place to place. For us, brigades are a methodology to massify agroecology.

Dalma, you’ve been teaching children about agroecology for nearly two decades. What does that look like?

Cartagena: I start with children who are 8 and 9 years old. And the children learn all the skills related to producing healthy food through agroecological practices. They learn compost-making, about using plants that can improve soil quality, like legumes, about the use of ground cover, planting different vegetables, and Puerto Rico’s staple products.

And the curious thing is that as they learn they become teachers. Once they learn one of these skills, they apply it not only by doing it but also by teaching others to do it. We’ve touched thousands of children over the last 18 years who have learned these agroecological production skills, and many have chosen professions related to agroecology. It’s extraordinary.

Children say that when they are close to the land, they feel like heroes that no one can hold back. These are words I have been hearing repeatedly over the years. They feel they are bringing something new to the world. Our hope is for this to be replicated in every school; the right to know how to produce healthy food should be a fundamental human right. This skill needs to be in our hands and in our memory.

Do you think this land-based education can build a different future for Puerto Rico?

Cartagena: When we lose our relationship to the land, we lose everything it brings us. [Land] gives us peace, power, happiness, sensations of abundance, and all of this is lost—robbed!—from children who don’t have this opportunity. If you cut off that relationship, you have a human being oriented toward death, and not toward life.

How might agroecology in Puerto Rico mitigate the impacts of the changing climate?

Vázquez: Scientifically, we know that agroecology cools the planet. In Puerto Rico’s case, it represents resistance and resilience. Resilience in the agroecosystem, and resistance because when we talk about agroecology, we’re talking also about social justice. The founding members of Boricuá realized that we can’t do it alone; we have to be organized. It offers space for resistance and transformation.

Legally we are a North American territory. We have a colonial context. Agroecology is a tool to exercise our sovereignty on the land. What’s more important than that? If we manage to expand this movement, it will become easier to overcome other challenges. Working the land, watching seeds germinate, and reaping the satisfaction of a successful harvest are more political than any book we could read.

What can other food sovereignty and environmental justice movements learn from the experience of Puerto Rico at this moment?

Vázquez:  The hurricane put agroecology to the test and we had positive results. We have several colleagues with farms who have told us how, through years of practices like crop rotation, intercropping, incorporating organic matter, ground cover, they managed to preserve the topsoil [through the devastation of Maria]. That’s gold. If water doesn’t take the topsoil away, I have somewhere to plant seeds the next day.

We had farmers who had landslides, but in their fields they didn’t suffer erosion. There were even some farmers who managed to have some crops withstand the hurricane. Some farmers with yucca, for example, a root below the ground, cut the stem so the wind didn’t take it away, leaving just a bit above the ground. Water and wind passed over, but the yucca was still there, and the next day they were able to harvest and provide food for the community. It was these agroecological practices that allowed us to eat and to recover more quickly. Without a doubt, agroecology is better in the face of climate change.

We’ve also learned a lot about renewable energy and we’re working on becoming less dependent on state energy resources. We have some projects that already had their systems in place and we have seen results, and other projects that have started developing their systems due to the experience of the hurricane.

We also talk a lot about mutual support. It’s very important. Aside from the technical and practical sides of how the agroecosystem can withstand a hurricane, how we can have energy, and how we can harvest rainwater, there’s the social part and the issue of mutual support. International solidarity is essential especially in the context of climate change.

Top photo: Organización Boricuá member Jorge Cora from Finca Conciencia in Solidarity, Reconstruction, and Climate Justice Brigade in Sejah Farm, St. Croix. (Photo credit: Jesús Vázquez)

This article has been updated to correct the date that Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico.

Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Eco-Orgánica (BORICUÁ) is a member of La Via Campesina in Puerto Rico.

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Transforming the politics of food in Southern Africa, from the local to the global

Across the world, at least 821 million people suffer from hunger. Malnutrition and severe food insecurity appear to be increasing throughout nearly the entire African continent; this has been confirmed by a recent United Nations report. The findings of the State of Food Security and Nutrition study show that hunger is escalating internationally. Nearly a quarter of Sub-Saharan Africans are likely to have experienced chronic food deprivation last year alone.

Paradoxically, the majority of those who are hungry are rural small-scale food producers. This makes access to food an inherently political question. Take Southern Africa as an example: despite continuously increasing investments in agriculture and fisheries over the last decade, the region is facing serious challenges and a deepening crisis.

Neoliberal economic policies were redoubled there in the wake of the 2007-08 food price crisis as a means to resuscitate countries collapsing under the pressure of decades of unfair trade, aid, and globalisation. Further transnational corporate control of the means of production—land, water, and seeds—has resulted in acute marginalisation of rural communities, and in many cases their expulsion from the countryside.

This is done in the name of food security, job creation, agricultural productivity, and overall poverty reduction. For instance, in Tanzania, where vast tracts of agricultural land are being converted into the widely celebrated Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, anaemia, stunting, and micronutrient deficiencies proliferate among peasant children and youth.

International dimension

The problems facing Africa’s rural poor and hungry are increasingly transnational in nature. Social movements and grassroots organisations throughout the continent are linking together in creative ways to call for solutions that target the highest levels of global governance. This is often framed as food sovereignty or climate justice, with agroecology as a concrete way of achieving both at the community level. Put simply, scaling up to big policy change first requires localised solutions.

These solidarity efforts for high-level reform are hardly new. What has changed is that there are now official spaces for movements and organizations to interact with and influence global governance.

Perhaps the most significant of these spaces is the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) for relations with the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Since UN Member States make decisions through the CFS, the CSM allows small-scale food providers a seat at the table and a way to exercise political power. In fact, many of their grassroots proposals have been folded into official policy.

Southern Africa

In Southern Africa, the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers’ Forum (ZIMSOFF), a national peasant movement, and South Africa’s Masifundise Development Trust, which is dedicated to empowering small-scale fishing communities, have been extremely vocal within this global food policy space. While their national experiences have been quite different, these two civil society agents have succeeded in using the CSM to achieve a positive social impact in complex situations.

In Zimbabwe, the new government is pushing mass investments in all sectors of the economy, promoting the line that the country is now “open for business”. With most of its financial interests focused on extractive industries, which already have tainted human rights records, activists are worried that the new administration’s position would be better described as “open to land grabs”.

According to the Sam Moyo African Institute of Agrarian Studies, prioritisation of large scale farming will likely lead to land concentration by capital and displacement of smallholder farmers, particularly women. Furthermore, the renewed drive for industrial capital to take part in mineral exploitation will, the Institute says, have devastating effects on the livelihoods of peasants, particularly those that depend on the land.

Activists within ZIMSOFF are aware that some of their hard-fought achievements could unravel at the national level. At the same time, they are determined to remain rooted at the local level. These leaders were involved in some of the first land occupations in Zimbabwe, building communities from the ashes of a destructive colonial past.

Deep in the countryside, in the town of Shashe, formerly landless peasants reclaimed their land, bringing it to life through a sophisticated network of agroecological education projects. Yet another wave of resettlement in Shashe occurred when 150 families were kicked out of a neighbouring province to make way for diamond mining. In Shashe, and in parallel experiences throughout the country, ZIMSOFF has its peasant base on high alert.

“We are pushing for agroecological farming practices in Shashe at the grassroots level so as to achieve food sovereignty,” explained Elizabeth Mpofu, ZIMSOFF’s chairperson. Its advocates maintain that food sovereignty is a precursor to any real national sovereignty, and a way to avoid the financial shocks of fragile states.

South Africa

South Africa is currently undergoing a national debate on land redistribution to solve the land inequality prevailing throughout the country as a result of Apartheid legacies. Even today, white South Africans own over 72 percent of the total of 37 million hectares of individually owned farmland and agricultural holdings. Small-scale fisheries are sidelined in favour of industrial exploration—controlled mostly by foreign corporations and large companies owned by a local elite.

Masifundise works alongside small-scale fishers in the Western Cape province. These fishers were excluded from the scope of new fishing legislation in the late 1990s. Much was achieved in South Africa, especially in terms of policy; in fact, it has some of the best small-scale fishing policies in the world. However, good policy on paper is one thing, while translating it into justice through practice is another.

“The conditions and procedures government adopted to implement the national policy contradict key elements of the policy. It is a case of legislation and regulation contradicting itself,” Naseegh Jaffer, Director of Masifundise carefully explained. “To us in fishing communities, it suggests that there is the intention but not the will to protect and promote small-scale fishing,” he added.

Masifundise’s mission is to empower small-scale fishing communities with knowledge, skills and capacity to become agents of change within their own communities, promoting and fighting for food sovereignty and socio-economic, political and environmental justice in South Africa.

High-level meetings

Both ZIMSOFF and Masifundise are part of transnational social movements, La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, and the World Forum of Fisher Peoples, a movement of small-scale fisher people, respectively. Both global movements negotiate global food policies through their participation in the Civil Society Mechanism.

To this end, Elizabeth Mpofu and Naseegh Jaffer have been intricately involved in the international meetings taking place at as part of the United Nations processes in Rome, including the annual CSM forum that just took place from October 13-14. And on the heels of the forum, its positions and key messages have been continually expressed at the CFS Plenary Session, a decision-making space being held at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters this week from October 15-19.

“Spaces like the CFS are not in themselves a place where solutions can be found. Rather, they are spaces where solutions can be developed with the inclusive participation of all parties,” reflected Naseegh Jaffer.

“We are pushing for the participation of women and youth in policy formation processes at local and national levels,” Elizabeth Mpofu echoed, “so a global united voice for the rights of peasants and policies that protect peasants are of great importance.”

The Zimbabwean and South African peasant and fishers’ leaders were part of a delegation of more than 300 participants from various sectors of civil society. And many of them have stayed on to interact with states and influence their food policies over the course of this week’s CFS. It has been a kaleidoscopic gathering of the CSM’s constituents from all continents, among them, smallholder and family farmers, pastoralists, fishers, indigenous peoples, agricultural and food workers, landless people, women, youth, consumers, urban food insecure populations, and NGOs—because the politics of food affects us all.

———-

Boaventura Monjane is an activist, journalist, and PhD candidate at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal. He is from Mozambique.

Salena Tramel is an activist, journalist, and PhD candidate at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), in The Hague, Netherlands. She is from the U.S.

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India: Youth camp by Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS) in images

Amritabhoomi, the agroecology school of La Via Campesina recently hosted a youth training camp from Sep 21st to 23rd, in the southern State of Karnataka, India. Lots of debates and discussions were held on issues around agraran crisis and responses by social movements. Youth training is one of the most important programs of KRRS and Amrita Bhoomi. Young people, the future of the movement get an opportunity to come together, learn, debate,  and become better leaders.

 

IN A GROUP DISCUSSION

 

TALKING ABOUT WOMEN FARMERS WITH KAVITHA KURUGANTI AND KAVITHA SREENIVASAN OF MAKAAM. ALL THE YOUNG FARMERS AGREED THAT WOMEN MUST OWN LAND EQUALLY.

KP SURESH TALKING ABOUT THE AGRARIAN CRISIS

TALKING ABOUT THE ACHIEVEMENTS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE FARMER’S MOVEMENT

SINGING THE ANTHEM OF KRRS

SINGING SONGS OF STRUGGLE IN THE EVENINGS

TAKING AN OATH OF COMMITMENT TO THE FARMER’S MOVEMENT AT PROFESSOR NANJUNDASWAMY’S MEMORIAL STONE

 

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NFU urges Canada to support Declaration for the Rights of Peasants at United Nations

(LONDON, ON – October 31, 2018) — The National Farmers Union (NFU) urges Canada to vote in favour of the United Nations (UN) Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas when it goes before the 3rd Committee session of the General Assembly. “The UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants is a framework recognizing the human rights of peasants, rural families, and landless farmers around the world,” explained NFU member Joan Brady, North American Regional Coordinator of La Via Campesina (LVC). “Eighty percent of global poverty exists in rural areas. This declaration is a tool to empower and protect peasants and improve livelihoods in rural areas. It celebrates the vital knowledge held by rural people and urges nations to acknowledge their fundamental rights. It is the product of over a decade of work by civil society movements and organizations fronted by La Via Campesina.” According to LVC a peasant is “…a man or woman of the land, who has a direct and special relationship with the land and nature through the production of food and/or other agricultural products. Peasants work the land themselves, rely above all on family labour and other small-scale forms of organizing labour. Peasants are traditionally embedded in their local communities and they take care of local landscapes and of agro-ecological systems… this includes Indigenous people working on the land… the term peasant also refers to landless farmers and farm workers.” The key tenets of the UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants uphold peasants’ rights to natural resources and the right to development; their right to food and food sovereignty; their right to land and other natural resources; their right to seeds and biological diversity and the rights of peasant women. “These rights must be recognized and protected – and urgently,” said Jessie MacInnis, member of the NFU International Program Committee. “Multinational corporations and capitalist ventures are pushing forward their agendas with no acknowledgement of the peoples they disperse or the land they remove from food production. These unsustainable actions threaten long-held knowledge of traditional seeds, lands and farming practices, and are causing a hunger crisis among many smallholders.” As a proponent of the family farm, the NFU believes that Canadian farm families provide the most appropriate and efficient form of agriculture in line with principles of food sovereignty. The NFU is a founding member of La Via Campesina, an international movement that represents over 200 million peasants in 81 countries, bringing together organizations representing small-and-medium scale farmers, peasants, farm workers, rural women, and indigenous communities. NFU farmer leaders will accompany La Via Campesina (LVC) in New York during the third wave of delegates in November to call upon the nations of the General Assembly to adopt this declaration. – 30 – For more information: Joan Brady, North American Regional Coordinator of La Via Campesina jbrady@hay.net or phone 1-226-237-3108 Jessie MacInnis, National Farmers Union Region 1 (Atlantic) International Programs Committee Representative, jessiemacinnis@gmail.com See also:  Rights for Peasants. 2018. CETIM. Accessed October 17, 2018. Declaration of Rights of Peasants – Women and Men. 2009. La Via Campesina. A New Step Forward in the Process for a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants – Via Campesina. 2017. La Via Campesina.

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USFSA Assembly in Solidarity with US and International Struggles

US Food Sovereignty Alliance - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 13:12
The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) held its IV National Assembly from October 12th thru 14th in Bellingham, Washington with the participation of 117 members, allies, and individuals from 71 organizations and 7 countries.  The theme “Defending Mother Earth for an Agroecological Life:  No Walls, No Capitalism” was enacted through art, drama, music, dance, organizing, […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology

Global Action to Adopt a Seed: Explainer

It is impossible to think about agriculture without seeds, varieties and cuttings. And it is hard to think about peasant agriculture without access to and control of these essential elements, as whoever controls the seeds decides who will plant them and what will be planted.

We know that peasant seeds are a heritage of the people for the good of humanity and that they mean autonomy, collective care culture and Food Sovereignty for those living in rural and urban areas.

Agribusinesses and capitalism are only interested in earning a profit. That is why La Via Campesina reaffirms the commitment to defend, rescue, improve, multiply and preserve peasant seeds, cuttings and varieties. It also struggles to expand the involvement of peasant women and men in this process and to increase the awareness of people living in the cities (the consumers).

Bearing this historical task in mind, La Via Campesina invites you all to foster the “Adopt a Seed” action, which is part of the “International campaign Seed Heritage of the People for the Good of Humanity” that has been promoted by our movement since 2001.

“Adopt a Seed” is a life action embraced in the context of the VII International Conference of La Via Campesina, which took place in 2017 in the Basque country. Its aim is that every organization or family is able to guard, multiply and reproduce the seeds to guarantee the diversity, history, present and future, and to encourage a collective life that recovers and adds value to our peasant identity.

Download the PDF version of this EXPLAINER

What are peasant seeds?

Seeds are not just grains, they are also the plants, animals, flowers, trees, fruits, herbs, medicinal plants and many other varieties preserved and selected throughout history by peasant women and men, as well as native peoples. These seeds are part of the origin of agriculture and the lives of the families that live and work in the country, but they also guarantee healthy food free of agrochemicals for the peasant women and men, and the consumers that live in the cities.

As they keep inside the natural richness of our lands, seeds should be preserved and multiplied.

How can you become part of this action?

Our strategy is that every peasant, peasant family or community commits to adopt a new variety of seed, whether vegetable or animal. This should be a seed each family is very interested in due to their identity or land, and that reaffirms their peasant way of life. The family has to become a guardian of this seed and guarantee its multiplication. After adopting it, the family will have to organize the reproduction and distribution of that plant or animal seed. The goal is to create a huge network of peasant seeds, to recover those which are scarce and to increase the production to achieve the Food Sovereignty of the Peoples.

As a result of this action, there will be thousands of peasant families strengthening biodiversity, recovering varieties and guaranteeing Food Sovereignty as well as the productive capacity. This is a direct action to prevent transnational companies from getting hold of the seeds and reducing our autonomy and biodiversity. Without peasant seeds, peasant agriculture becomes a hostage of transnational companies.

There is no limit of time to become part of this action. You can start implementing it in your community and invite more people to join you! The most important part is to take the first step! We want to create a huge network of seeds and get to know your community and the new variety: lvcweb@viacampesina.org

The advantages of peasant seeds

A peasant seed, whether vegetable or animal, has an incalculable value. It means autonomy to acquire inputs and make decisions because if we have the seeds we can decide when and how to plant them.
Seeds are key for the continuity of peasant agriculture and for the production of healthy food for workers and consumers.

We will only achieve Food Sovereignty if seeds are protected by the peasantry, the communities and the peoples.

Extending this action means guaranteeing access to quality food in rural and urban areas!

 

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Over 200 Farm, Food and Rural Groups Endorse Agribusiness Merger Moratorium Bills

National Farmers Union - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 08:54
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 1, 2018 Contact: Andrew Jerome, (202) 314-3106, ajerome@nfudc.org   WASHINGTON — Today, a broad-based coalition of 213 farm, food, rural, faith and consumer advocacy organizations delivered a letter to Congress endorsing food and agribusiness merger moratorium bills and urging members of the House and Senate to cosponsor the legislation. Senator Cory Booker […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology

Markets and Infrastructure: The Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market

National Farmers Union - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 09:58
By Liza Ayers, NFU Intern The Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market is a landmark on Bethesda’s Wisconsin Avenue. For decades, it has not only served as a hub for residents looking to purchase fresh produce and artisanal products but has also represented Montgomery County’s abundant agricultural history and continued support of local farmers. Amid the Great […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology

2018 Endorsements

Family Farm Action - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 05:46

                                    Family Farm Action Announces 26 endorsements across 7 States

Family Farm Action, an advocacy organization, building political muscle for family farmers and rural communities, announced a slate of 2018 midterm candidate endorsements. The list includes candidates in Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Iowa.

Family Farm Action Political Director Cody Atkinson said: “We are excited that so many candidates across the country are taking a stand for family farmers and against the multinational corporations that are extracting wealth from our rural communities.”

Family Farm Action is endorsing candidates from State Representative to U.S. Senate to build a strong coalition of champions for rural communities and farm families across the country.

                                                        Family Farm Action 2018 Midterm Endorsements:

Iowa
JD Scholten IA 4th Congressional District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse JD Scholten for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. While Steve King has been in the pocket of foreign-owned multinational big ag, JD has been outspoken in his support of Iowa’s family farmers. Mr. Scholten understands that consolidation of industrial agriculture corporations has irreparably hurt Iowa’s rural communities by extracting their wealth and crushing opportunities for future generations. As Rep. King continues his repulsive rhetoric out of step with Iowans, JD Scholten offers a path forward that all Iowans can be proud to stand with. Vote JD Scholten November 6th.

Zach Wahls IA 37th Senate District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Zach Wahls for Iowa’s 37th Senate District. Mr. Wahls is a champion for Iowa’s rural communities and understands that to bring prosperity, wealth, and opportunity back these forgotten towns a new approach must be taken. As your state senator, Zach will bring community leaders from across the political spectrum together to build a shared vision for the future of Iowa that leaves no Iowan behind. Vote Zach Wahls on November 6th.

Kansas
Alan LaPolice KS 1st Congressional District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Alan LaPolice for Kansas’ 1st Congressional District. Mr. LaPolice is a champion for Kansas’ family farmers and understands that when given a chance, Kansas farmers can compete with anyone in the world, all they need is a fair shot. If elected, Alan will fight to bring back opportunity and wealth to rural Kansas. Vote Alan LaPolice November 6th.

James Thompson KS 4th Congressional District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse James Thompson for Kansas 4th Congressional District. James has always been a fighter, whether it be during his service in the Army or on the campaign trail fighting for a better deal for Kansans. As your Congressman, James will work tirelessly to ensure all trade deals being pushed are fair and give Kansas farmers a seat at the table. Vote James Thompson November 6th.

Missouri
Claire McCaskill US Senate
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Claire McCaskill for reelection to the United States Senate. Sen. McCaskill has kept Missouri’s rural communities at the forefront of her priorities as your Senator. She has voted to bring competition back to agricultural markets, supported reform of corrupt commodity checkoff programs, and put Missouri’s farmers on a level playing field by supporting fair and reciprocal trade practices. Family Farm Action strongly encourages those who support Missouri’s family farmers to vote to reelect Claire McCaskill on November 6th.

Crystal Stephens MO 18th Senate District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Crystal Stephens for Missouri’s 18th Senate District. As your state senator, Mrs. Stephens will work across the aisle to create a better future for our family farmers and ranchers. She knows that without changes now, the rural communities in every corner of our state will continue to struggle. Crystal won’t just be a new voice in Jefferson City; she will bring a whole new approach to the failing status quo. Vote Crystal Stephens on November 6th.

Adrian Plank MO 47th House District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Adrian Plank for Missouri’s 47th State House District. Adrian will be a champion for Missouri’s rural communities if elected and is committed to restoring wealth, prosperity, and opportunity to areas that have been left behind by Jefferson City’s friendly policies for foreign-owned multinational corporations. He knows that, when given a fair chance, Missouri’s farmers can win again.

Joni Perry MO 3rd House District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Joni Perry for Missouri’s 3rd House District. As your state representative, Joni will be a champion for fair markets, access to affordable capital, and push to end the foreign ownership of Missouri’s most valuable natural resource, our farmland. Coming from a long line of family farmers, Mrs. Perry knows that continuing down the road of foreign ownership and corporate farming will eventually end Missouri’s long history of family farming. Vote Joni Perry for state representative on November 6th.

Doug Beck MO 92nd House District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Rep. Doug Beck as he seeks re-election. Rep. Beck has worked tirelessly in his position to restore opportunity and prosperity to Missouri’s rural communities and family farmers. He has been a champion of reform that would return local control to Missouri’s citizens, not foreign-owned big ag corporations. Vote Doug Beck November 6th.

Martha Stevens MO 46th House District 
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Martha Stevens for re-election to Missouri’s 46th House District. Rep. Stevens is dedicated to restoring prosperity, wealth, and opportunity to Missouri’s rural communities. As your state representative, Martha Stevens has pushed legislation that would stop any more of Missouri’s farmland from being bought by foreign-owned multinational corporations. Missouri’s farmers and ranchers have been the foundation of our state’s economy in the past, and by reelecting Rep. Stevens, it will be the beginning of a brighter future as well. Vote Martha Stevens on November 6th.

Kip Kendrick MO 45th House District 
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Kip Kendrick’s re-election campaign for Missouri’s 45th House District. As your representative, Kip has been a fierce advocate for Missouri’s family farmers and the protection of our shared natural resources. Keeping Rep. Kendrick in office will ensure a fighter is in office who understands the importance of restoring our rural communities. Vote Kip Kendrick on November 6th.

Tracy McCreery: MO 88th House District 
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Tracy McCreery’s re-election campaign to Missouri’s 88th House District. As your state representative, Tracy has proven herself to be a defender of Missouri’s family farms. She has fought to restore our once thriving rural communities by pushing back against the corporate takeover of our farmland and will continue do so when re-elected. Vote Tracy McCreery November 6th.

Tom Hurst MO 62nd House District
Family Farm Action encourages the reelection of Tom Hurst for state representative. Rep. Hurst has fought to end the foreign ownership of Missouri’s farmland. Vote Tom Hurst November 6th.

New Mexico
Deb Haaland NM 1st Congressional District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Deb Haaland for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. As the first Native American woman in Congress Deb will be a trailblazer for western rural communities. With a commitment to ensuring farmers and ranchers of all backgrounds have a fair shot in the market and multinational corporations stop extracting our wealth, Deb will be a fighter in Washington DC.

North Dakota
Jim Dotzenrod ND Ag Commissioner
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Jim Dotzenrod for North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner. As a farmer himself, Jim knows the importance of access to fair markets, and as your commissioner, he will fight to give North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers access to fair and competitive markets. North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers can compete with anyone in the world. They need to be given the opportunity. Jim Dotzenrod will provide them with that opportunity. Vote Jim Dotzenrod for Agriculture Commissioner on November 6th.

 Joshua Boschee ND Secretary of State
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Josh Boschee for North Dakota Secretary of State. Josh understands the threats to North Dakota’s farmers are larger now than ever before, and as Secretary of State, he will continue to protect family farmers from multinational corporate takeovers. Also, Josh will modernize the office so that farmers and ranchers spend less time dealing with bureaucracy, and more time caring for their land, crops, and livestock. Vote Josh Boschee on November 6th.

Kylie Oversen ND Tax Commissioner
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Kylie Oversen to be the next Tax Commissioner of North Dakota. Kylie has shown herself to be a champion of North Dakota’s hard-working family farmers and ranchers and will continue that work as Tax Commissioner. In this position, Ms. Oversen will ensure a fair tax code that restores opportunity and prosperity to rural North Dakota. Vote Kylie Oversen November 6th.

Tim Mathern ND 11th Senate District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Senator Tim Mathern for re-election to North Dakota’s 11th Senate District. Sen. Mathern has spent his time as your state senator to ensure that every North Dakotan has access to public services that help build a better future for North Dakota. He has worked tirelessly to return control of agriculture to family farmers and rural communities.  Vote Time Mathern November 6th.

Erin Oban ND 35th Senate District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Sen. Erin Oban’s bid for reelection. As your state senator, Erin Oban has been an outspoken critic of attempts by corporate agriculture to take over North Dakota’s tradition of family farming and ranching. With your support, Sen. Oban will continue being a champion for North Dakota’s rural communities. Vote Sen. Erin Oban on November 6th.

Marvin Nelson ND 9th House District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Rep. Marvin Nelson for re-election to North Dakota’s 9th house district. As your representative, Marvin has always supported legislation which promotes and protects North Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers. If re-elected, Rep. Nelson will push legislation to invest in North Dakota’s forgotten rural areas infrastructure, moves government positions into rural areas to remind bureaucrats whom they serve, and continue to fight multinational corporations seeking to destroy North Dakota’s proud history of independence. Vote Marvin Nelson November 6th.

Gretchen Dobervich ND 11th House District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Rep. Gretchen Dobervich for North Dakota’s 11th district. Rep. Dobervich has been a fierce defender and supporter of North Dakota’s family farmers and ranchers and will continue doing so if re-elected. As your representative, Rep. Dobervich will continue her work to provide resources for North Dakota’s forgotten rural communities that include protecting natural resources for future agricultural production and access to mental health crisis and suicide prevention services. Vote to re-elect Gretchen Dobervich November 6th.

Ohio
Sherrod Brown US Senate
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Sherrod Brown’s reelection campaign to the United State Senate. Sen. Brown is an ally of Ohio’s family farmer and has a proven record of championing issues that help rural communities. Senator Brown Joined with his colleagues to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill and supports reforming the corrupt commodity checkoff programs. Support Sen. Brown on November 6th.

Sharon Sweda OH 13th Senate District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Sharon Sweda for Ohio’s 13th Senate District. As a long time resident of Huron County, Mrs. Sweda understands the importance of local control over resources. She will be a fighter to return decision-making power to the citizens of the district and restoring funding for local communities in need. Vote Sharon Sweda November 6th.  

Joe Helle OH 89th House District
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Joe Helle for Ohio’s 89th House District. Mr. Helle comes from a long line of Ohio family farmers and knows all too well the challenges they face. As your representative, Joe will work to protect Lake Eerie from harmful runoff that compromises family farms and local economies. Vote Joe Helle November 6th.

Oklahoma
Drew Edmondson OK Governor
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Drew Edmondson to be the next Governor of Oklahoma. Drew was a champion for Oklahoma’s farmers as Attorney General and will accomplish even more as Governor. Most importantly, Drew understands that decisions have to be made with input from those being affected by the current broken system and will work closely with rural communities and farmers to ensure future legislation works. We strongly encourage Oklahomans to vote for Drew Edmondson on November 6th.

Mark Myles OK Attorney General
Family Farm Action is proud to endorse Mark Myles to be Oklahoma’s next Attorney General. Mark understands the status quo in Oklahoma isn’t going to cut it for Oklahoma’s struggling rural communities and family farmers. As your Attorney General, Mark will strengthen the office’s antitrust division to prevent foreign-owned monopolies from continuing to extract wealth and opportunity from Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers. Vote Mark Myles for Attorney General on November 6th.

The post 2018 Endorsements appeared first on Family Farm Action.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

UPDATE: Court Rejects Attempt by Corporate Ag to Squelch Public Comment on Environmental Review for Mega-Dairy

Land Stewardship Project - Tue, 10/30/2018 - 22:00

LEWISTON, Minn. — Corporate agriculture interests have failed in their attempt to limit the time the public has to submit comments to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) about a massive dairy project’s potential environmental risks. A lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County District Court seeking to prevent the comment period for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) on the Daley Farms dairy expansion in southeastern Minnesota’s Winona County from being extended until Nov. 15. Earlier this month, at the request of local residents, the MPCA extended the comment period on the EAW from Oct. 31 until Nov. 15. The lawsuit, which claimed that the MPCA lacked authority to extend the comment period, was filed by the AgriGrowth Council, which represents the state’s largest corporate agriculture interests. Also named as plaintiffs were several commodity groups and the Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Judge Jennifer L. Frisch today dismissed the injunction filed against the MPCA. Judge Frisch found that the law does allow the MPCA to grant an extension to the EAW public comment. The lawsuit claimed that the proposers of the massive dairy would be harmed by the two-week extension. Judge Frisch disagreed, stating in her ruling that, “The harm (to the public) in not allowing the extended comment period is significant.”

Ann Cohen and Betsy Lawton, attorneys with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), intervened in the case, arguing that the extension granted by MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine is legal, fair and appropriate, and that ending it prematurely would harm commenters, including MCEA and Land Stewardship Project members, as well as experts weighing in on the EAW and the public.

Daley Farms is proposing increasing the size of its herd near Lewiston from 1,728 to 4,628 cattle. This would double the liquid manure and waste water production of this operation to 46 million gallons a year, and require adding a manure basin the size of three football fields at a depth of 16 feet. The raw liquid waste would sit on top of sensitive karst geology, which is composed of porous limestone that is highly prone to sinkholes and disappearing springs. This geology can allow surface pollution to enter the groundwater in a matter of hours. The dairy expansion would use 92 million gallons of the area’s groundwater annually. The nearby city of Lewiston (pop. 1,506) uses 33.6 million gallons a year. Daley Farms is surrounded by towns plagued with nitrate levels that are near or above the maximum allowable nitrate level of 10 mg/L.

When demanding the comment period extension, local residents noted that they needed more time to review the 235-page EAW, as well as an additional 800 pages of permit application materials. The extension was needed in part to accommodate the fact that local farmers are in the middle of harvest.

Documents related to this lawsuit are available by contacting the Land Stewardship Project’s Barb Sogn-Frank via e-mail or at 612-722-6377.

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

MST’s João Pedro Stedile: “We have to go back to doing grassroots work”

Info Source: Brasil de Fato | São Paulo | Edition: Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira

“We leave this process with closer ties and organized capacity and strength to resist this professed fascist offensive,” said João Pedro Stedile, from the national coordination of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) about the result of Brazil’s 2018 presidential elections.

In an interview to the Brasil de Fato Radio immediately after Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in the runoff election, Stedile pointed out that, despite the defeat, progressive forces won politically, as a strong unity has developed over the past few weeks. In his opinion, Bolsonaro’s government, which will start on Jan. 1, 2019, will be similar to the Pinochet regime in Chile in its fascist nature.

“It’s a government that will continuously use repression, threats, intimidation. It will unleash the reactionary forces that exist in society. On the other hand, they will try to give complete freedom to capital in a neoliberal program. However, that formula is not viable, it does not provide social cohesion, and it does not solve the population’s basic problems,” Stedile said.

Brasil de Fato: What can you say to the more than 46 million people who voted for candidate Fernando Haddad, who was endorsed by the MST?

We are still in the heat of the moment [after the results came out] and, first and foremost, we have to keep calm and understand the context of class struggle, and not feel defeated by this result. The ballots may have legitimized Bolsonaro, but that does not mean he had the support of the majority of the people. There is a high level of absenteeism, 31 million [voters]. Haddad had 45 million [votes]. That’s 76 million Brazilians who did not vote for Bolsonaro.

Therefore, the Brazilian society is divided. Even the results of the election, from what I could see from previous opinion polls, it was clear that those supporting Haddad’s platform are the ones who earn less, between two and five minimum wages, those with low level of education. And clearly the richer and wealthier voted for Bolsonaro.

But there is also a clear difference between regions in the elections. When we look at Brazil’s map of elected governors, 12 progressive candidates who won [out of 27 states] support people’s organizations, from Pará state [in the North] to governor Renato Casagrande in Espírito Santo [in the Southeast]. The Northeast and all that area in the Amazon are a hub of resistance in terms of regions, which clearly shows the people there do not want to follow the paths of Bolsonaro’s fascist project.

Finally, as a brief analysis, everyone is talking about it, aside from the election results, last week consolidated a political victory for the left and people’s movements. We had numerous demonstrations of all organized forces. Unions, intellectuals, students, universities.

Never in Brazil’s history have there been more than 500,000 women all over the country, in 360 cities, taking to the streets to say “Not Him,” “No to Fascism,” so I believe the analysis is that it is not a political defeat. We suffered an electoral defeat, but we leave this process with closer ties and organized capacity and strength to resist this professed fascist offensive.

Despite Bolsonaro’s braggers, we know the institutions have limits. He has said that he plans to designate the MST and the MTST [Homeless Workers’ Movement] as terrorist organizations. Do you see this as a real possibility?

I think Bolsonaro’s government will be similiar, if we draw a parallel, to the Pinochet regime in Chile. Not in the way he came into power, but for its fascist nature. It’s a government that will continuously use repression, threats, intimidation. It will unleash the reactionary forces that exist in society. On the other hand, they will try to give complete freedom to capital in a neoliberal program. However, that formula is not viable, it does not provide social cohesion, and it does not solve the population’s basic problems.

Brazil is going through a serious economic crisis, which is the root of all this process. Since 2012, the country has not grown. And as it does not grow, as it does not produce new wealth, social, economic, and environment problems increase.

With his ultra neoliberal program, where he only stands for the interests of capital, he may help banks, make banks continue to profit, help transnational corporations to hijack what is left of what we have here, but, as they will not solve people’s real problems in terms of employment, income, labor right, pension, land, housing, that will intensify contradictions.

That will lead to social chaos that will allow people’s movements to go back to the offensive line, with mass mobilizations. And, deep down, in addition to what is in the Constitution – which he will not respect very much –, what will protect us is, not running to hide. What will protect us is the ability to bring the people together, keep fighting with the masses in defense of rights, of improving living conditions. And people’s mobilizations will protect our activists and leaders. Let us not be scared. The contradictions they will have will be much bigger than the possibility of repressing with impunity.

Read the full interview here

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