you know an aspiring farmer that embodies the principles of food
sovereignty in their work?
you eager to celebrate such a beginning farmer through supporting a
grassroots community award?
In memory of legendary organic pioneer and food sovereignty advocate, John Kinsman (who passed away in Jan. 2014), Family Farm Defenders has now awarded over a dozen prizes in his honor, and you can be part of this amazing effort!
Anyone can submit a beginning farmer nomination!
Engaged in farming for less than five years
Focus on small-scale vegetable, fruit, and/or livestock
Market products locally
Practice sustainable management of natural resources
Promote healthy soil and conserve biodiversity
Support food sovereignty principles
deadline to submit 2020 prize nominations
Mon. Jan. 20th
nominated farmers will receive a follow-up application and a
committee will then review all submitted applications. Final
winner(s) will then be recognized at a community award banquet to be
held later in the spring as part of the 2020 Family Farm Defenders
Annual Meeting (details pending).
who make a contribution towards the celebration will also be
officially recognized as sponsors in publicity, and anyone who
donates $200 or more will receive two (2) complimentary tickets to
the award banquet and prize ceremony! All donations to FFD are tax
submit a nomination and/or provide a sponsorship, please contact:
John E. Peck, executive director, Family Farm Defenders
“This is what democracy looks like!” – that was but one of the many chants heard on the streets of numerous cities during the recent Global Climate Change Strike – a slogan that originated on the streets of Seattle almost two decades ago. When the images and voices of 50,000+ people shutting down a global convergence of wealthy elites rippled across media outlets in late Nov. 1999, the “Battle of Seattle” caught many by surprise. Corporate free trade apologists were quick to disparage the protesters as part of a misguided “anti-globalization” movement, apparently unaware that the forces behind the direct action had been cultivating north-south solidarity for quite awhile – a new more powerful form of globalized resistance from below. Family farmers/fishers, migrant farm/food workers, and indigenous communities were critical to this grassroots victory – in particular, La Via Campesina (LVC) and its many U.S. allies such as Family Farm Defenders (FFD) and the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC). It was in such epic struggle that the seeds of food sovereignty found fertile ground.
I was but one of many who helped organize this historic encounter that brought together a vast array of radical environmentalists, labor unions, anarchists, global justice advocates, and – of course, family farmers, farm/food workers, and other supporters of global food sovereignty. In fact, my very first night in Seattle – Mon. Nov. 29th – I was able to link arms with Vandana Shiva outside the corporate-sponsored WTO welcome celebration. This action was in part organized by Jubilee 2000, a largely faith-based grassroots campaign to expose and eliminate odious debts that had come onto the scene at the huge protest surrounding the G8 Summit in Birmingham, Scotland in 1998. In Seattle, the citizen blockade meant many elites were not able to get to the kick-off “cocktail party”, and all those uneaten hors d’ouevres were later dumpster dived to feed hungry protesters at the convergence space.
Earlier in the day I had caught up with John Kinsman and Francis Goodman of Family Farm Defenders, Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, Ronnie Cummins of the Pure Food Campaign (later the Organic Consumers Association), Dr. Ridgely A. Mumin Muhammed of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, and other food sovereignty activists outside the downtown McDonalds for a slow food protest picnic. This was the first time I met José Bové, the iconic farmer activist with Confédération Paysanne who had recently used his tractor to “dismantle” another McDonalds in France. Bové had somehow managed to smuggle several blocks of his own Rocquefort cheese through U.S. Customs and shared it with the crowd – a wholesome alternative to the junk food or “la malbouffe” as Bové described what was being served inside. Activists with LVC and NFFC had met earlier to plant trees in a Seattle park, and farmer delegates from over 30 countries would continue to build cross border solidarity at various teach-ins and protest actions throughout the rest of the week. At each such event the pungent smell of smuggled Rocquefort was detectable – some folks had saved their souvenir cheese! Within an hour of the protest picnic, the Black Bloc came through, and this McDonalds was also promptly “dismantled.” The Black Bloc would take out many other corporate targets – Bank of America, Starbucks, Warner Bros, Niketown, Gap, Old Navy to name but a few – over the course of the next few days.
Long before many of us arrived in Seattle, backdoor deals had already been made. Most notably, the AFL-CIO had promised government officials that their Tues. Nov. 30th post labor rally parade through Seattle’s downtown would be used to siphon off protesters from participating in the actions to physically shutdown the WTO meeting that were already planned by the Direct Action Network (DAN). But this co-optation strategy soon unraveled as labor activists broke through the “peace police” to join their comrades that had been clogging the streets around the Convention Center since 6:00 am that morning. Among the many militant unions that defied the “labor bosses” in Seattle were the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the Steelworkers, and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). By 10:00 am Seattle police had already launched their first unprovoked attacks against peaceful protesters occupying 6th Avenue, including myself. Word quickly spread through indymedia that the “Battle for Seattle” had begun.
Judi Bari was not in Seattle (she had passed away in 1997 from a long struggle with cancer), but the fruits of her organizing work with the Redwoods Summer Campaign was evident among many of the Earth First! and the IWW activists who did show up for the protest. I was lucky enough to have met Judi Bari while I was a student organizer at Reed College in Portland, OR back in the late 1980s, along with another inspiration ecofeminist, Starhawk, who was in the streets of Seattle. Many of the young activists who traveled with me from the Midwest to Seattle had been inspired by EF! direct action protests against the Crandon Mine in northern WI in 1997, as well as the Minnehaha Free State resistance to the Highway 55 bypass in Minneapolis, MN in 1998. The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) – with lots of heavy lifting from Tom Goldtooth – convened a whole series of solidarity events between native activists and their allies in Seattle. Among the indigenous participants were members of the U’Wa from Colombia, resisting ecocide at the hands of Occdental Petroleum and the rest of the violent fossil fuel industrial complex.
The mutual enemy that brought so many family farmers, farm/food workers, fisher folk, and indigenous activists to the Battle of Seattle was industrial agribusiness and neoliberal capitalism. Thankfully, the grassroots resistance inheritance we brought with us had even deeper historic roots, like the tallgrass prairies and old growth forests that pre-dated settler colonialism. The 1970s farm crisis that swept across the Heartland had convinced many rural folks to “raise less corn and more hell” – as did their populist ancestors a century before – and prompted the American Agriculture Movement (AAM) to organize a massive tractorcade demanding an end to farm foreclosures and a return to parity pricing that shut down Washington DC for weeks. In MN in the 1980s the “Bolt Weevils” inflicted millions of dollars in damage to unwanted high voltage powerlines, inspiring Dana Lyons’ EF! folksong classic, “Turn of the Wrench.” Flagrant price rigging and anti-trust violations by the dairy giants in the 1990s prompted WI farmers to again dump milk – as their grandparents did back in 1933 – and stomp on blocks of Kraft Velveeta outside Gov. Tommy Thompson’s office in the State Capitol.
on the streets of Seattle the tide had already turned by noon on Tues. Nov. 29th with
official cancellation of the WTO’s opening session – not enough delegates could reach the venue.
of pepper spray and tear gas and scrambled
a captain by plane to a military weapons depot in Casper, WY to
Seattle firefighters had refused to turn fire hoses on their union
brothers and sisters. Hundreds of protesters and bystanders had been
arrested and soon clogged detention centers (often for absurd reasons
such as speaking to media or driving a taxi),
but more activists simply took their place in blockading streets and impeding
cheerleaders kept morale
high, while Food Not Bombs delivered sustenance. Hip Hop artists
from South Central LA were among those reclaiming public space, blasting “TKO the WTO” from a mobile sound
vehicle courtesy of Alli Chaggi-Starr with Art and Revolution. By 3 pm Seattle’s mayor had
thrown in the towel, declaring
of emergency, a blanket curfew, as well as a fifty block wide “no protest” zone.
Clinton’s arrival on Wed. Dec. 1st to
address the WTO meeting,
with a couple hundred National Guard troops,
could hardly extinguish the raging dumpster fire.
importantly, this “street heat” was being acutely
the residual WTO
from the Global South looked outside the convention
windows and could see for themselves that public opinion in the U.S. was
not as monolithic in favor of the “free market” as they had been
told by corporate
Thinly veiled threats of
retaliation from US Sec. of State, Madeline Albright, and US Trade Rep.,
Charlene Barshefsky, hardly
and ultimately many delegates
out. As a post WTO
press release from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) stated,
fed up with
“being marginalized and generally excluded on issues of vital
importance for our peoples and their future.”
Thurs. Dec. 2nd food sovereignty and anti-biotech groups took to the streets
again in one of the more tranquil marches of the “Battle of Seattle” with nary
sight. Protesters gathered
at a farmers market to distribute organic apples and then marched to
a rally outside the Seattle headquarters of Cargill. A
“solidarity in struggle” identity was
will never forget being with John
Kinsman as he proudly proclaimed
he was a peasant, too, as
from Mexico, South Korea, South Africa, and India.
of protesters in Seattle was a moratorium
WTO negotiations. Some went
further, calling for abolition
of the WTO itself, along with the
of the Apocalypse”
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
they were beyond any reform. Their
mere existence violates
food sovereignty in so many ways – from forcing countries to trade
food against their will, privatizing the commons (water, seeds,
land), and denying people
the right to know where their food came from and how it was produced,
as well as weaponizing
hunger as a tool
of state terrorism.
As one LVC protester in
remarked, “you cannot put sugar coating on a rotten pie.” After
the meeting collapse,
LVC sent a tongue and cheek “thank you” to the WTO for
helping to unify small farmers worldwide: “During the weeklong work
in Seattle, we have now succeeded in globalizing the struggle and
globalizing our hopes.” Thanks
to the “Spirit of Seattle”
the concept of food sovereignty was
also popularized among
grassroots activists and has
about food/farm issues.
Speaking before the American Sociological Society Meeting in DC in 2016, Filipino academic and activist, Walden Bello, reflected back on those historic days in late 1999: “In Seattle, ordinary women and men made truth real with collective action that discredited an intellectual paradigm that had served as the ideological warden of corporate control.” The Battle of Seattle was a critical inflection point in a growing global grassroots movement, bridging generations of seasoned activists and weaving together diverse resistance struggles. When West Coast longshore workers arrived in Madison, WI in March 2011 to support the “Cheddar Revolution” against Gov. Walker’s union busting austerity budget this was no accident – such solidarity was crafted in Seattle back in Nov. 1999. When Midwestern family farmers traveled to Standing Rock, ND in 2016 to support indigenous water protectors in their struggle against tar sands pipelines and extreme fossil fuel extraction this was no accident– such solidarity was nurtured in Seattle back in Nov. 1999. Twenty years on, the “Spirit of Seattle” continues to inform and inspire many activists today, and clearly points the way to another world being possible.
Family Farm Defenders is proud to once again offer many giftboxes you can send to your family and friends over the holiday season. We are excited to offer award-winning Cedar Grove Cheeses along with other delicious products – artisanal Potters crackers, NorthStar bison sausage, organic Just Coffee, Native Harvest White Earth wild rice, Honey Acres mustard, Tietz Family heirloom popcorn, and Driftless Organic sunflower oil – all of which are “fairly traded” and guarantee their small scale producers a living wage. By choosing Family Farm Defenders Holiday Gift Boxes, you can help insure family farmers receive a parity price for their hardwork. This holiday season why not just “say cheese” and help support Family Farm Defenders!
Cream Puff Special:
pounds of “creamy” Cedar Grove cheeses that will melt in your
mouth: Farmers, Monterey Jack and Butterkäse. We’ve also
included some Tietz Family heirloom popcorn, as well as Driftless
Organic sunflower oil. Yummy! $50 total – includes shipping
Spicy Cheese Special:
pounds of “spicy” Cedar Grove cheeses that will tingle your
tongue: tomato basil; pepper jack; and garlic dill. We’ve also
included some Honey Acres hot mustard, as well as Potters artisanal
crackers. Delicious! $50 total – includes shipping and handling.
FFD-3 Something Wild Special
Three pounds of pepper jack, swiss, and smoked cheddar from Cedar Grove Cheese, along with Native Harvest White Earth wild rice, NorthStar Bison Sausage and Potter’s artisanal crackers. A real crowd pleaser! $75 total – includes shipping and handling.
FFD-4 Holiday Festival Special
We’ve put all sorts of good stuff in this box to kick off your holidays! Three pounds of mild, medium, and sharp cheddar from Cedar Grove Cheese, NorthStar bison sausage, Potter’s artisanal crackers, organic french roast Just Coffee, Native Harvest White Earth wild rice, Tietz Family heirloom popcorn, as well as Driftless Organic sunflower oil. MMM super good! $100 total – includes shipping and handling.
Make Your Very Own Box!
Just give us a call (#608-260-0900) or send an email: email@example.com if you would to customize your own box by mixing and matching whatever combination of items mentioned above. We are more than happy to accommodate your holiday gift giving!
The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance is very excited to announce the winners of the 2019 Food Sovereignty Prize. Urban Tilth (Richmond, CA) is the domestic honoree, and Plan Pueblo a Pueblo (Plan People to People; Venezuela) is the international honoree.
The eleventh annual Food Sovereignty
Prize Ceremony will occur virtually on the evening of Thursday, October
10, anchored by the USFSA’s Midwest Region at their membership assembly
in Ferguson, Missouri. Please keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a
livestream registration link that includes the exact time of the event.
About the Prize
The Food Sovereignty Prize (FSP) was
first awarded in 2009 by the Community Food Security Coalition. The
USFSA began to lead the initiative once the Coalition disbanded in
For the USFSA, awarding the Prize
allows for expanding the Alliance’s public outreach through recognition
of the inspirational efforts demonstrated by grassroots organizations
and networks seeking to realize the right to people’s food sovereignty
and the scaling of agroecology. The FSP spotlights honorees committed to
struggling for social change through collective action, policy reform,
cultivating global linkages, and centering the leadership of women,
youth, poor people, and marginalized racialized groups. Furthermore, the
FSP functions as an oppositional tool for developing a
counter-narrative against industrial agribusiness, particularly the
World Food Prize annually awarded to individuals who purportedly advance
human development via alleged improvements to the quantity, quality,
and availability of food.
The FSP highlights how grassroots
social movements confront corporate control over seeds, land, water,
labor, knowledge, supply chains, and policy-making. The Prize calls
attention to grassroots protagonists who persistently work toward ending
poverty, localizing food systems, and democratizing politics to benefit
farmers, fisherfolk, food chain workers, and consumers.
While selecting the honorees, the
2019 FSP committee and National Coordination of the USFSA discussed the
current U.S. political and economic context in which the gap between
rich and poor widens, politicians contend for 2020 Presidential
nominations, agri-food corporate mergers further consolidate markets,
and family farmers and small-scale fishers continue to face bankruptcy
and displacement. USFSA leaders understood the need to denounce the
heightened risks faced by migrant families, poor communities of color,
and indigenous peoples threatened by the U.S. government’s stricter
border enforcement, ongoing immigration raids, intensified
militarization of police, and privatization of public lands consisting
of sacred ancestral sites. The USFSA also decided that the 2019 FSP
should raise awareness about the U.S. government’s aggressive
interventionist policies in Latin America and elsewhere.
Domestic Honoree: Urban Tilth was founded in 2005 with the mission of building more sustainable, just, and healthy food systems in West Contra Coast County, California. In addition to coordinating two school gardens, the organization operates five community gardens and small urban farms for growing and distributing thousands of pounds of culturally-appropriate produce each year.
The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) of Urban Tilth supplies ten-pound boxes of fresh produce to local eaters every week throughout the year. The CSA provides affordable, seasonal food grown by the organization and procured through partner distributors. They also sell their pesticide-free produce at a weekly farm stand. As a co-founder of the Richmond Food Policy Council, Urban Tilth strives for legislative reform that ensures the viability of the regional agri-food economy and serves the interests of all local residents. Guaranteeing healthy food in public schools has been a priority as well as popular education on the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables for a well-balanced diet.
Doria Robinson, the Executive Director of Urban Tilth, serves as a co-coordinator of the USFSA’s Western region. Urban Tilth also participates on the steering committee of the Our Power Richmond Coalition, which is dedicated to achieving a Just Transition from extractivism toward a regenerative economy grounded in racial justice and governed by frontline community leadership. Furthermore, Urban Tilth is an active member ofClimate Justice Alliance’s Food Sovereignty Working Group that has been developing a translocal strategy for eliminating the dependence of agri-food systems on fossil fuels and shifting away from the capitalist logic which prioritizes profit over people. Through CJA and the USFSA, Urban Tilth organizes around the vision of ending hunger and malnutrition and combating climate change by creating and defending regional, appropriately scaled, environmentally responsible, and socioeconomically just agri-food systems.
International Honoree: Plan Pueblo a Pueblo
El Plan Socialista de Producción, Distribución, y Consumo de Alimentos Pueblo a Pueblo (The People to People Socialist Plan of Production, Distribution, and Consumption) started in 2015 with the establishment of a network to bridge rural-urban divides in Venezuela. Plan Pueblo a Pueblo purchases fruits, vegetables, tubers, legumes, basic grains, meat, eggs, and sugar from small producers. Organizers distribute the food to urban consumers at prices more affordable than products sold in conventional markets like street vendors and stores.
The grassroots-driven Plan has created an alternative to capitalist agribusiness that relies on imported food and seeds, the intense use of chemical inputs, and intermediary buyers. Guided by socialist and ecological principles, Plan Pueblo a Pueblo links rural producers and tens of thousands of urban consumers into a mutually beneficial system defined by solidarity, equity, democratic decision-making, the promotion of organic agricultural practices, and the recovery of native seed varieties. Food delivered by Plan Pueblo a Pueblo supplement items supplied through the government’s food distribution program calledCLAP (Local Food Production and Provision Committees).
U.S. sanctions and attempts to install a new President in Venezuela have imposed significant challenges for participants and organizers of Plan Pueblo a Pueblo. The weaponization of food by the U.S. government amounts to collective punishment against Venezuelans, 40,000 of who died between 2017 and 2018 as result of sanctions limiting access to live-saving medicine, medical equipment, food, and other basic imports. Plan Pueblo a Pueblo farmers face shortages of seeds, fertilizers, and tools due to the U.S.-led economic blockade and rising rates of inflation.
Food sovereignty and socialist economic planning are key solutions for Plan Pueblo a Pueblo
to ensure the human right to food and protection for the livelihoods of
small-scale farmers. The network allies with the Bolivarian
revolutionary government and works with partner organizations to rebuild
seed reserves, produce organic fertilizer, acquire tools, bolster
direct market relations, and lead political education trainings for
rural and urban communities.
By: Jim Goodman, board member of Family Farm Defenders from Wonewoc, WI
Published by Common Dreams, Wed. April 17, 2019
NAFTA 2.0 is not about feeding people or doing right by American farmers or Canadian farmers or Mexican farmers—it is about furthering corporate profit.
With the current push to enact the Administrations USMCA (NAFTA 2.0) industry front groups are again passing themselves off as grassroots organizations pushing the best interests of farmers, working people and the environment. Don’t be fooled.
Approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA 2.0 also known USMCA) will do little to reverse the problems of the NAFTA trade agreement of 1994. Nothing in the proposed replacement agreement will prevent job outsourcing, nor is there any part of the agreement that would reverse our current agricultural trade deficit. So what’s the deal with the “Motorcade for Trade” tour?
The 2018 Census of Agriculture documents the occurrence of a clear shift in farm size. Small and medium sized farms are exiting production while the number and overall size of larger farms continues to increase. We are told growth is inevitable in any business if they wish to succeed, because growth goes hand in hand with efficiency and profit.
Farmers are told they must become more efficient and adopt economies of scale and that rationale is often accepted since farm prices are seemingly always on the decline and less income per unit of production means more units of production are required if one wants to survive. This same logic is applied to most jobs: factory workers must produce more, teachers must teach larger classes, etc.—all for the same low wage.
Farmers are also told salvation from the low prices resulting from overproduction will come from expanding export markets. Sounds logical, sell the excess overseas, but farmers everywhere are being sold the same story—increase exports. But everyone can’t increase production and expect it to find a willing buyer. Time to accept the fact that too much production is just too much.
Free trade agreements allow movement of goods across international borders without tariffs and theoretically, everyone benefits. In reality most farmers do not directly export goods, their produce is sold increasingly to multi-national corporations who buy at the lowest price possible, add a processing component, drastically increase the price of the finished product and sell, world-wide, with the benefit of trade agreements that insure they pay no import duties.
With the current push to enact the Administrations USMCA (NAFTA 2.0) industry front groups are again passing themselves off as grassroots organizations pushing the best interests of farmers, working people and the environment. Don’t be fooled.
Trade Works for America, a front group started by two Republican operatives, aims to spend more than $10 million to encourage members of Congress to support the USMAC.
Farmers For Free Trade, an industry front group—arguably has members who are actually farmers—but the vast majority of funding comes from members of the Big Ag lobby, like Croplife America, WalMart, American Farm Bureau Federation and Tyson Foods—hardly a friend of the farmer.
While farmers do sell to the vertically integrated (from egg, to chicken nugget) giant that is Tyson Foods, their interest is in corporate profit, not profitability for farmers. As Arkansas farmer Karen Crutchfield told Farm Aid in 2015, “I’d like to see the farmers treated equally, where they can make a living instead of the big man getting everything and the growers getting just enough to get by.”
As noted on the Tyson website, “We now have production facilities in China and India, with poultry production for their own consumers and rising export industry. Tyson produces 1 of every 5 pounds of meat consumed in the U.S. 122,000 employees annually process and sell $15 billion worth of beef, $11 billion of chicken, and $5 billion of pork. They also formulate, package, and sell $8 billion in prepared foods under a brand roster that includes Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean, Ball Park Franks, Original Philly Cheesesteak, and Aidells Sausage. Half of the products are distributed by retail grocers; most of the rest go to McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, and other food-service outlets.”Tyson is also invested in Memphis Meats Inc., a company developing lab-grown beef, poultry and fish. How do you square that with the “Farmers” For Free Trade?
Clearly, one of the long term intentions is to break Canada’s supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs, and the US hopes NAFTA 2.0 will cause the first cracks in that system. Canadian farmers control their production insuring stable, fair farm prices, a consistent supply of locally produced food at a fair market price, all with no government subsidization.
According to a University of Arizona study, if the Canadian supply management system is eventually removed, “herd sizes could expand and increased economies of scale could lead to larger, more efficient herds, with lower costs, which could eventually lead to Canada becoming a net dairy exporter as Canadian dairy becomes more competitive in international markets.”
Help for struggling US dairy farmers? Hardly, but as intended, it will be a boon to multi-national corporations.
NAFTA 2.0 is not about feeding people or helping and doing right by American farmers or Canadian farmers or Mexican farmers—it is about furthering corporate profit. With continued over production for international markets, the need for more tax payer subsidies to prop up sagging farm prices will continue.
As the Farmers For Free Trade launch their “Motorcade For Trade” RV tour with stops from New York to Montana to hype NAFTA 2.0, the people and the politicians the tour is targeting need to remember that farmers need fair prices, fair trade agreements and production control—not another business-as-usual traded deal that fattens corporate profit at the expense of farmers, families, the environment and our economic security.
Accept no imitations, industry front groups are not farmers.