NFFC Statement to USDA on UNFSS 2021

NFFC Blog, NFFC Weighs In

USDA Food Systems Summit Listening Session
Antonio Tovar, NFFC Policy Associate
September 3, 2021

The National Family Farm Coalition represents 30 organizations in 42 states and is part of the USFSA [US Food Sovereignty Alliance] and LVC [La Via Campesina]. We are thankful for the opportunity to participate in this listening session today.

We recognize the United States’ influence on the global stage, and it is important that our policies reflect our values and some of the current administration’s commitments to address pressing challenges in our agricultural system: climate change; fair markets; infrastructure; human rights; and democracy.

Agriculture is a contributor to climate change, but also as a victim of these changes must turn around and move away from our industrial agricultural model. It is a fallacy that corporations feed the globe; they are destroying it. We need sustainable food production based on agroecology not on fossil energy. And although the concept among the theoretical framework of the UN Food Systems Summit was to incorporate long-time practitioners, it was faulty.

Moving from disparity to parity in the marketplace requires supply management and parity pricing programs that forcibly tie conservation agricultural practices. Overproduction of cheap food and the impact it has on fresh healthy food production and prices makes it responsible for increased rates of obesity, cancer, and diabetes.

Diversifying access to healthy food in our country and beyond requires infrastructure investment and good purchasing programs. More than exporting our failing corporate model, we should be promoting local food sovereignty models. Access and production of healthy food is a Human Right, and we invite the United States to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas.

Finally, we need a global food system that reflects our democratic values; the current UN Food System Summit was not planned to be inclusive. The US should encourage participatory and decentralized planning processes as they authentically democratize food systems and local governance. The civic society should be planners, not simple guests, of these conversations.

I know that some of you may think that we romanticize peasantry. Look where we are: farmers and farmworkers are aging; our dependency on imported health food is growing; and we are on fire in the West and underwater in the East. Perhaps our aspiration of modernity and progress has been misplaced: we are proud peasants and fish folks.