For Immediate Release 4/16/13
John E. Peck, Family Farm Defenders, #608-260-0900
Josh Wise, Illinois Fair Trade Coalition, #952-818-5474
Fri. April 19th 12:00 Noon Protest & Leaflet, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 141 W. Jackson
Fri. April 19th 5:30 pm Potluck & Forum, Jane Adams Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted
To mark Via Campesina’s International Day of Peasant Struggle, family farmers and their allies will once again converge on the doorstep of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) – 141 W. Jackson – at Noon on Fri. April 19th to expose the rampant price fixing by commodity speculators that is behind the ongoing global food crisis. Last year on May 23rd thousands of angry citizens turned up inside and outside the CME annual shareholders meeting to demand greater social responsibility from Chicago’s most lucrative corporation, which posted $1.9 billion in profits in 2011 while receiving millions in local, state, and federal tax cuts.
Dairy farmers in particular will be calling upon the Dept. of Justice (DoJ) to take action against the food giants – including corrupt dairy cooperatives such as Dairy Farmer of America (DFA) and Land of Lakes – that are continuing to defy anti-trust laws and manipulate markets at the CME for their own gain. In March DFA settled out of court, paying $46 million over charges it rigged milk future contracts and cheese spot call contracts at the CME back in 2004. This is the second antitrust settlement DFA has reached this year. In January, DFA payed $158 million to settle a separate price-fixing class action lawsuit accusing the co-op along with Dean Foods and others of fixing fluid milk prices across the Southeast and ripping off dairy farmers.
There will also be a public speak out against the latest round of forced trade deals being pushed by the Obama administration such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will hurt farmers, workers, and consumers for the sake of greater corporate profits. To visualize the threat posed by the TPP, protesters intend to dump a sack of imported Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) on a hapless U.S. dairy farmer. MPC is imported into the U.S. as an industrial grade ingredient to make glue and has not been approved or tested by the FDA for use in human food. Nonetheless, U.S. dairy giants are now lobbying to pass the TPP in order to increase unregulated MPC imports from the corrupt co-op, Fronterra, based in New Zealand, to undercut the prices paid for fresh fluid milk to U.S. dairy farmers. Fronterra has also been implicated in the global scandal involving distribution of adulterated dairy byproducts such as infant formula laced with toxic melamine.
Additionally, the global corporate elite seeks to further undermine good paying jobs for US workers. TPP countries include Vietnam and Brunei, where independent unions are illegal and sweatshop labor is rampant. In Vietnam wages are only $2 a day and it is referred to as the low cost labor alternative to China. Not only will the TPP be detrimental to US workers, but it will likely continue in the steps of NAFTA, which dislocated millions of small farmers and workers in devloping countries, and fueled the US immigration crisis. Indeed, the TPP will likely only accelerate the global race to the bottom on wages, environmental and consumer protection.
From 5:30 – 7:30 pm on Fri. April 19th, Family Farm Defenders and allies will also be hosting a local food potluck and open community forum on Reclaiming Our Food Sovereignty! Come learn more about Via Campesina and the struggle for food sovereignty and economic justice at home and abroad with updates on the “Idle No More Campaign” led by Native Peoples against destructive resource extraction such as open pit iron mines and tar sands pipelines in the Great Lakes region; the Farm Labor Reality Tour from Maine to Florida in support of justice for immigrant tomato pickers, as well as the Land O Fakes cooperate accountability campaign to demand a fair milk price for family dairy farmers. This event will be held at the Jane Adams Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St. The public is welcome to attend.