Stop Fast Track! Farmers and Allies Speak Out at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to Demand Fair Trade, Not Forced Trade

chicagowebFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 4/2/15:

Contact: John E. Peck, Executive Director, Family Farm Defenders, (608) 260-0900

Chicago, Illinois – In conjunction with a series of actions around the world against unfair trade ( and to mark La Via Campesina’s International Day of Peasant Struggle (, farmers and their allies will be holding a speak out at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) – 141 W. Jackson – at noon on Friday April 17th to expose the price fixing by commodity speculators that profit from the globalization of hunger, poverty, oppression, and pollution. This educational leaflet will urge passerbys to contact Congress to oppose Fast Track and to also apply pressure on the Dept. of Justice to enforce anti-trust laws at the world’s largest private trading platform where markets are routinely rigged to the detriment of farmers and consumers alike.

The evening before the CME speak out – Thurs. April 16th at 6:00 pm at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum (800 S. Halsted in Chicago) – family farmers from across the Midwest will be joining indigenous activists, consumer advocates, and other key allies for a Community Forum on Food Sovereignty. Panelists include: John Ikerd, agricultural economist and sustainable agriculture advocate (MO); Ben Burkett, farmer with the Southern Federation of Cooperatives (MS); Joel Greeno, farmer with Family Farm Defenders (WI); Lisa Griffith of the National Family Farm Coalition (MO); Nikos Pastos, activist with the Alaska Big Village Network (AK); John E. Peck with Family Farm Defenders (WI); Jessica Fujan with Food and Water Watch (IL), Seva Gandhi of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (IL), Orrin Williams of the Center for Urban Transformation (IL); as well as representatives from the Friends of the MST, the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil.

For more info on the food sovereignty forum, visit Facebook:

From its humble beginning in 1898 as the non-profit Chicago Butter and Egg Board, the CME has since grown into the world’s largest private trading clearinghouse. Each day an elite group of commodity traders gathers at the CME to swap such products as natural gas, carbon credits, soybeans, cheddar cheese, fertilizer, and feather meal (ground up dead chickens and chicken manure used to feed livestock). Within seconds this “thin” market reverberates around the globe, affecting farm gate prices and grocery bills for billions of people. In 2002 the CME began issuing its own stock, and in 2007 acquired the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) for $8 billion as one of its designated contract markets (DCMs). In 2008 the CME Group bought out another rival, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) for $8.9 billion, and in 2009 also acquired the Dow Jones Indexes. At the close of 2014 the CME reported handling over 15 million contracts per day and had paid out over $1.3 billion in dividends to its shareholders.

While some human shouting still occurs in the “pit,” over 70% of CME trading now happens quietly behind the scenes through its Globex electronic platform. The majority of this trading is now also done by speculators, who have no tangible interest in the commodities they buy and sell. CME remains the most profitable business in Chicago, yet it insists upon millions in tax breaks each year from the State of Illinois in order to keep it from relocating. The revolving door cadre of CME executives are also among the wealthiest people in the country. The U.S. Dept. of Justice (DoJ) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) supposedly watchdog the CME but seldom take action against criminal activity. Among these bad actors are many of the world’s largest food giants and even corrupt farmer co-ops. For instance, in 2008 the CFTC found Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) guilty of rigging milk prices through dairy trading at the CME and levied an unprecedented $12 million fine. In late March 2015 the CFTC also charged Kraft Foods with rigging global wheat prices at the CME.

“The real solution to feeding the world, cooling the planet, and sharing prosperity is found in fair trade, sustainable agriculture, and democratic sovereignty – that is the message behind La Via Campesina’s International Peasants Day,” noted John E. Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders. “We are calling upon our elected officials in Washington DC to reject Fast Track and other forced trade deals that are now being railroaded through Congress. We also insist that speculators obey the law and that the Dept. of Justice bring an end to the illegal racketeering now underway at the CME so that consumers, workers, and farmers benefit from agriculture – not just agribusiness executives and corporate shareholders.”

You can help spread the word about the Stop Fast Track speak out at the CME through sharing our Facebook event:

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John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize Award Dinner & Ceremony! Sat. March 14th 5-9 pm UW-Madison Pyle Center


Family Farm Defenders is pleased to announce the two winners of this year’s John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize.  They are Carsten Thomas from Moorhead, MN and Emmet Fisher and Cella Langer from Mt. Horeb, WI.  Carsten operates a diverse organic farm in the Red River Valley, honoring Native food heritage, and also offers many hands-on environmental education programs.  Cella and Emmet own Oxheart Farm producing food for farmers markets and a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.  Cella & Emmet also manage the Farley Center’s Farm Incubator and Land Link program outside Verona, WI.  Each prize winner will be receiving a $2000 cash prize at the award dinner

With Keynote Speaker: Marty Strange,co-founder of the Center for  Rural Affairs and author of Family Farming: a New Economic Vision

Introduced by UW-Madison Prof. Jack Kloppenburg, coordinator of the Opne Source Seed Initiative (OSSI)

Sat. March 14th 5:00 – 9:00 pm

UW-Madison’s Pyle Center

(702 Langdon St., Madison WI)

Among the current sponsors of this year’s John Kinsman prize which FFD is especially proud to recognize are:  Jean Kinsman, Food and Water Watch, Hiroshi and Arlene Kanno, Willy St. Co-op, John Adamowski, Cornucopia Institute, Jim and Rebecca Goodman (Northwood Farms), Midwest Environmental Advocates, John and Mary Ann Kinsman, Viroqua Food Co-op, Tony Schultz and Kat Becker (Stoney Acres Farm), Farley Center for Peace Justice and Sustainability, M. Grace Grzanek, Pete Hardin (the Milkweed), Krueger Printing, and Bill Anderson (Creme de la Coulee).

Preceded from 12:00 Noon – 4:00 pm by the

Family Farm Defenders Annual Meeting

With updates on such issues as the dairy crisis, frack

sand mining, climate justice, genetically modified

organisms, and factory farm struggles, as well as board

elections. The public is most welcome to attend!

Award Dinner tickets are $50 per person

($35 for low income or student)

You can purchase your ticket online here JK Prize Dinner Tickets!

For more info, contact FFD: tel. 608-260-0900 email:

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Fall 2014 Issue of the Defender Newsletter is now Available!

The latest issue of the Defender newsletter has been published with great articles on this year’s Food Sovereignty Prize event in Des Moines, the Loss of African American Farmers, Oregon’s Right to Farm Law, the Corporate Takeover of Grocery Stores, Wisconsin’s Failure to Enforce Factory Farm Rules, the recent Climate Justice march in NYC, and much more!

You can find an electronic version here:   Defender Newsletter Fall 2014

But if you would like to join FFD as a member you can also receive a paper copy of the Defender in the mail to share with neighbors and friends!  Please support our work with an end of the year tax deductible donation – we depend upon YOU to sustain our grassroots work.  Best wishes and happy holidays!

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Citizens shouldn’t have to force DNR to enforce water laws

Manure-laden in Kewaunee County, WisconsinBy: Jim Goodman, Wonewoc, WI dairy farmer and FFD board member

Captimes (Madison, WI), 11/13/14

Wisconsin has over 220 dairy concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, and according to the Department of Natural Resources there are about 30 more applications pending. CAFOs are required to obtain a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit every five years once they reach the level of 1,000 “animal units,” or about 700 dairy cows.
Kewaunee County, near Green Bay, has 14 permitted CAFOs, giving it one of the highest livestock densities in the state.
In March 2012, Kinnard Farms, in Lincoln township in Kewaunee County, applied for a reissuance of its WPDES permit and proposed to construct new facilities that would allow it to more than double its herd size to 6,200 cattle. This number of cattle would produce over 70 million gallons of manure per year without, according to Kinnard Farms, any pollution of ground or surface water.
Impacts on the community such as noise, odor and dust damage to public highways do not need to be considered in the permitting process.
WPDES permits are supposed to protect the public. I would assume they are in keeping with the mission of the DNR to protect and enhance our natural resources, including our air, land and water; wildlife, fish and forests and the ecosystems that sustain life.
But a permit is only as good as the legal enforcement. Kinnard Farms had a history of permit violations: three notices of noncompliance for land-spreading violations, as well as a 2010 notice of violation for its overflowing manure lagoon. Still, the DNR issued the permit for Kinnard’s expansion based on incomplete information as to how Kinnard Farms planned to clean up its act.
In October 2012 neighbors of Kinnard Farms filed a petition requesting the DNR to review the permit, challenging the DNR’s issuance of a permit before the expansion plans were completed, noting that there was no limit placed on the number of cows at the dairy and no provision stipulating monitoring wells. The permit could not ensure that storage facilities and land-spreading would not result in runoff events that would pollute surface and ground water.
Kimberlee Wright, spokeswoman for Midwest Environmental Advocates, noted that while the DNR has “some very good men and women who care about Wisconsin’s water, they are very understaffed and they are under horrible political pressure to issue permits.” She also noted that there was only one person in the state dealing with CAFO permits and no staff to monitor permitted facilities.
The petitioners were asking only that laws already on the books be enforced. Midwest Environmental Advocates attorney Sarah Williams stated that “the petitioners are not trying to get rid of CAFOs, they’re not trying to stop this industrial dairy from expanding, what they want is a permit that protects their water and health.”
During the February case hearing, public testimony noted that 50 percent of the private wells tested in Lincoln township, and 30 percent of the private wells tested in Kewaunee County, were contaminated with E. coli and other contaminants. Residents cannot use water from their wells for drinking, cooking or bathing.
In his Oct. 29 decision, Judge Jefferey Boldt ordered Kinnard Farms to begin groundwater monitoring for pollutants at the building site. He ordered no less than six monitoring wells, two of which must monitor off-site land-spreading of manure. It was also ordered that a maximum number of animal units at the facility be noted on the permit.
The DNR was ordered to modify the Kinnard Farms permit to limit discharge of manure or wastewater pollutants to navigable waters.
If, as spokesman Lee Kinnard stated, Kinnard Farms is “very committed to being responsible stewards of those resources” and “passionate about being responsible farmers,” why didn’t they put the petitioners’ requests in place two years ago?
Why didn’t the DNR undertake a more thorough permitting process initially? Government agencies should not have to be forced by citizens to enforce the law.
In a state where “moving forward” means getting bigger, the environment and public health always seem to trumped by someone needing to increase their profits. We are told that economic survival depends on growth, no matter what business you are in. Personally, I don’t agree.
There is something seriously wrong with society if profit for a few is put ahead of public health.
And when the government refuses to enforce laws protecting the public, then there is something seriously wrong with the government.
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Video of 10/15/14 Food Sovereignty Prize Ceremony in Des Moines, IA

Here is a link to a video of the Food Sovereignty Prize Award ceremony in Des Moines, IA on Wed. Oct. 15th

Food Sovereignty Prize Award | OccupierKaylynn | Bambu…

Broadcast by OccupierKaylynn on
Preview by Yahoo

And here is the program of who spoke when!

7:00 PM   MCs Welcome everyone to the 6th Food Sovereignty Prize, thank the Gateway Dance Theatre, explain the program, and introduce the “mistica” to honor Charity Hicks and John Kinsman, the ancestors,   Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor

7:05 PM   Gateway Dancers sing and dance to open ceremony      

7:15 PM    Mistica honoring Charity Hicks and John Kinsman              Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau & Lisa Griffith
7:25 PM    Framing from USFSA/local ally    Mary Harrison & John Peck
7:45 PM    Introduction of C2C by MCs Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor
Award presented to C2C by Axel Fuentes, Jahi Chappel, Sharon Donovan
7:50 PM    Rosalinda and Patricio from C2C speak (with translation)              
8:10 PM    MCs thank C2C and introduce UAWC – Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor
Award presented to UAWC by Herschelle Milford, Daniel Maingi, Carolyn Walker, Adam Mason
8:15 PM     UAWC representative, Mr. Ali Abd ElRahman, speaks   
8:30 PM     Closing – Thank yous to Small Planet Fund, CCI, Occupy the World Food Prize, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, EcoWatch, and Gateway Dancers            Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor invite the winners, USFSA and local and international allies to the stage
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