Join FFD for the 6th Annual John Kinsman Prize Award on Sat. March 11th at UW-Madison, held in conjunction with the Food Sovereignty Symposium and Festival!

cropped-cornThis year’s 6th Annual John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize Award Ceremony will be held on Sat. March 11th at UW-Madison’s Union South, Varsity Hall, with a reception at 5:30 pm and award dinner at 6:00 pm  Tickets for the award banquet are $35 and can be purchased online at:
This year’s award dinner is being held in conjunction with a much larger and exciting first ever Food Sovereignty Symposium and Festival, being held at various UW-Madison venues and other Madison locations over the course of the week of March 7th – 12th.
For a full schedule of events, please visit:
The symposium focuses on ways that communities and individuals seek to control and manage their food systems, including food sovereignty issues for Wisconsin’s American Indian communities.   The festival celebrates Indigenous, local, and regional foods, with a variety of special meals and movies throughout the week.   Highlights include:
Tues. March 7th – 7:00 pm Food Sovereignty Film Shorts, Union South Marquee Theater
Wed. March 8th – 7:00 pm  Madison Premier of Seed – The Untold Story, Union South Marquee Theater
Fri. March 10th – 9:30 am morning session on Genetic sovereignty: seeds, breeds and wild species
Fri. March 10th – 1:00 pm afternoon session on Food Sovereignty and the Law
Fri. March 10th – Native Fish Fry
Sat. March 11th – 10:00 am small plates brunch, and morning keynotes by Rowen White, Seed Keeper from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and Elizabeth Hoover, Dept. of American Studies at Brown University
Sat. March 11th – 1:00 and 3:30 pm afternoon sessions on:  Food Sovereignty and the Wisconsin Idea; Access to Land, Markets, and Food; Health and Food Sovereignty; Cuisine of this Place; Food Sovereignty in Dane County; and Leadership for Food Sovereignty
Sat. March 11th 5:00 reception; 6:00 pm dinner and John Kinsman Prize awards with keynote address on Decolonizing Our Diet by Dr. Martin Reinhardt, Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Associate Professor of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University.
Sun. March 12th  8:00 – 10:00 am Family Farm Defenders Annual Meeting
Sun. March 12th 10:30 am  brunch and native chef panel
Hope you can join us and please spread the word!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Family Farm Defenders is seeking nominations and sponsorships for the 2017 John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize!


Deadline to submit your nominee for the 2017 John Kinsman Prize is Jan. 16th!
The criteria to be nominated include: jk
Engaged in own farm for less than 5 years        
Small scale livestock and/or vegetable and/or fruit production
Market products locally
Practice sustainable management of natural resources
Promote healthy soil
Conserve biodiversity
Support food sovereignty principles
Winners of the prize will be honored at an award dinner held in conjunction with the Food Sovereignty Symposium and Celebration at UW-Madison on Sat. March 11th, 2017
Please send name(s) and complete contact information of your nominee(s) by Jan. 16th, 2017 to:
Family Farm Defenders PO Box 1772 Madison, WI 53701
Tel/Fax. 608-260-0900   or  email: 
Sponsors of the 2017 John Kinsman Prize will also receive mention in the celebration program, and any sponsorship donation over $100 will also receive two complimentary tickets to the award dinner itself.
Tax deductible donations to “Family Farm Defenders” can be sent to the address above.  You can also make an online donation through Razoo on our website:
Previous prize winners include: 2011: Lindsey Morris Carpenter of Grassroots Farm, near Monroe, WI, and Daniel and Hannah Miller of Easy Yoke Farm near Millville MN; in 2012: Nancy and Jeff Kirstein, Good Earth Farm, Lennox SD and Tracy and Dick Vinz, Olden Produce, Ripon, WI; 2014: Blain Snipstal of Five Seeds Farm near Sparks, MD and Jed Schenkier and Will Pool of Loud Grade Produce Squad in Chicago, IL; 2015 Carsten Thomas of Moorhead, MN and Polly Dalton and Oren Jakobson of Field Notes Farm near Amherst, WI; and in 2016 Donald (Jahi) Ellis from Vidalia, GA and Emmet Fisher and Cella Langer of Oxheart Farm near Mt. Horeb, WI.
Thanks for your support of food sovereignty and please spread the word!
Posted in Food Sovereignty | Leave a comment

The Trans Pacific Partnership Will Not Help Struggling Farmers

By: Jim Goodman, FFD board member and dairy farmer near Wonewoc, WI

Jim Goodman at TPP protestA recent 10/26/16 Associated Press article ( noted that Wisconsin dairy producers “see nothing but advantages” if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) were passed during the final session of Congress.

A more accurate statement would be that some dairy producers see nothing but advantages. I am at a loss to understand how dairy producers would see any advantages to yet another “free trade” agreement. We have had a series of trade agreements over the past decades, all promising advantages for farmers, well, advantages for everyone, and I am waiting, when can we expect these advantages to come to fruition?

Do dairy farmers who support the passage of TPP assume it will mean increased money in their pockets? That would clearly be an advantage, but if the history of trade agreements is any indication of increased profits for farmers, they may be betting the farm on loosing odds.

Proponents of the TPP say it will open borders and increase exports of US dairy products, but increasing farm exports does not equate with increased farmer profit. Increased exports will, however, mean higher profits for multinational corporations who, in essence, wrote the text of TPP.

Economist Mark Stephenson at the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Profitability notes that “we’d have the opportunity to sell, we would also have to open our borders” “dairy is a major focus for all the players”. And, one might ask, why assume that the “other players” in TPP are not continuing to build their own dairy production capabilities? Do they need or will they even want our exports?

Trade does go both ways, and US dairy farmers should be wary of opening US borders to more dairy imports from say, New Zealand, where low cost dairy production has been taken to an art form. The National Milk Producers Federation tells us that US dairy farmers will loose billions of dollars to New Zealand’s dairy imports under TPP–-not a good deal.

And its not just dairy, when beef prices rose to a point where US producers were able to make a profit, USDA allowed increased imports from South America and Africa, (including areas with endemic foot and mouth disease) to drive down US farm prices. TPP will make unrestricted imports a regular occurrence.

TPP has very little to do with free trade, we already have trade agreements with 6 of the other 11 countries that are part of the TPP. Trade barriers are already very low, so if these countries wanted to import more US dairy products or anything else, there is little to stop them.

TPP is really about protectionism, protecting the global corporations that profit by moving goods around the world, buying low and selling high. Producers (be they farmers or factory workers) in the global economy seldom sell their product to the end user, that is done by the middle-man, the multinational corporations. These multinational giants ultimately take any available profit and continue the trend of redistribution of wealth upward at the expense of those on the bottom and the few who remain in the middle.

It makes little sense for US dairy farmers to continue to increase milk production when farm-gate prices are below the cost of production, yet that is what we are told we must do— continue to produce and look for foreign markets to dump our surplus and hope for a little profit.

Fair farm prices, ending imports of low priced foreign dairy components, encouraging local, regional and national markets that are fairly and honestly regulated, and an end to the get big or get out mentality that has fostered the consolidation of agriculture and decline of rural America, that would seem to be a more sensible path.

If dairy farmers really believe that their only path to profitability lies in following the advice of the agribusiness industry –- to grow, produce more, get more efficient, if they truly believe in the neo-liberal economic model, if they wish to believe that they can prosper and “call the shots” in a global economy controlled by multinational corporations— well, good luck.

Posted in Fair Trade | Comments Off on The Trans Pacific Partnership Will Not Help Struggling Farmers

The Revolution is Community – Naim Edwards, Voices for Earth Justice, 9/15/16

       The “world hunger” discussion – certainly in the media – focuses on the overdeveloped nations and wealthy individuals figuring out how to help and provide resources for less industrialized nations to feed themselves. Whether it’s the G8, Monsanto, the Gates Foundation, or any other corporate entity, their answer to solving world hunger includes economic growth and some new agriculture technology. Both of those solutions are misinformed and unnecessary. The solution is actually quite simple; the people experiencing hunger probably know the answer better than most. World hunger will cease to be an issue when all people have the right to produce and share food as they see fit.

            When examined from a political lens, world hunger is fundamentally a power issue. Governments have co-opted the power of their people in order to join the rat race of capitalism; corporations also deceive governments and people with false promises of a better quality of life once they’re given permission to establish themselves. The creation of world hunger probably began with the onslaught of colonialism and continues with the perpetuation of neoliberalism through trade agreements and more militarized foreign affairs. In both cases, stable populations of people are coerced into divesting of power, which leads to increased dependence on global forces.

            Local people power can neither be measured by weapons technology nor GDP.  Rather, the power of a community can be qualified by the health of individuals and their bonds with one another. When a group of people is healthy and has strong relationships built on trust, it possesses resilience. Food production gives people the power to sustain themselves. Moreover, a society that supports agriculture that is healing to the Earth and its people is arguably the fundamental building block of civilization. Regarding world hunger, it is clear that widespread starvation is the result of taking a population and individuals’ ability to feed themselves.

            With this understanding, it is encouraging to know the solution to hunger is clear; give the power back. Stated differently, countries and corporations must acknowledge and allow populations of people to have food sovereignty. Via Campesina, the world’s strongest grassroots organization fighting for food sovereignty defines it as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” As simple as it sounds, there is strong opposition to the food sovereignty movement. Such a model does not play into and benefit the profit driven model so many countries and companies adhere to.

            Nonetheless, the movement has been named and defined and people all over the world are pursuing it. More importantly, groups of people are organizing collectively, and one organization doing that in the United States is the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA). The USFSA is dedicated to ending poverty and bringing forth more democratic control over the food system locally, nationally, and globally. The alliance also hosts the Food Sovereignty Prize, an annual event that honors organizations leading the food sovereignty movement.

            This years honorees are the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). Both organizations are challenging systems of oppression through organizing people experiencing injustice in the food system. They also practice principles of agroecology, which seek to incorporate culture, activism, and ecologically sound practices into food production. Thanks to the efforts of AFSA and FWAF world hunger is not simply being addressed by feeding people or making them conform to foreign food production techniques. These grassroots organizations are building resilient communities and recognizing the power and dignity of the people they serve.

Posted in Food Sovereignty | Leave a comment

Summer 2016 Defender Newsletter is published – Check it out!

If you enjoy the Family Farm Defender newsletter and would like to also receive a paper version in the mail, please become a member and make an online donation through Razoo!

You are also most welcome to share and/or reprint the articles below as long as you give credit to the individual authors and Family Farm Defenders as an organization.  Enjoy!

Summer 2016 Family Farm Defender newsletter









Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment