Ralph Paige passed on June 28, 2018. We recall his words from 2004 advocating for a government that is accountable to its constituents, promotes food safety and food security, and enters trade arrangements that respect growers’ need for a fair price and their customers recognition of the value of their products.
On April 17th each year, members of La Via Campesina – the largest umbrella organization in the world for family farmers, fisher and herder folk, hunters/gatherers/foresters, and indigenous peoples – commemorate the massacre of landless peasants in 1996 in the Amazonian state of Pará, Brazil. Nineteen members of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) were attacked and killed while hundreds more peasants were injured by Brazilian military police during their protest for comprehensive agrarian reform. This struggle for justice continues in Brazil today. Events planned for April 17th worldwide may be viewed online (http://bit.ly/2GUu8Y0April17th).
As the formal talks to renegotiate NAFTA begin in Washington, DC this week, family farm organizations from Canada, the United States and Mexico denounce the direction of the talks. Despite repeated demands by civil society organizations in all three countries, the governments have refused to open the talks to the public or to publish proposed negotiating texts. All signs point to negotiations designed to increase agribusiness exports and corporate control over the food system rather than to support fair and sustainable trade and farming systems.
NAFTA should be replaced, not renegotiated, and our farmers will be watching to promote that at every turn.
NAFTA should be replaced with an agreement that encourages and ensures environmental sustainability, economic viability and longevity for the people growing and harvesting our food, as well as their communities, in all three NAFTA countries.
NAFTA should be replaced with a different agreement with the goal of increasing living standards in all three countries. Any provisions related to agriculture must start from a goal of rebuilding farm and food systems to support fair and sustainable rural economies and food supplies.
The independent family farming, ranching and fishing members of the National Family Farm Coalition have watched their incomes drop, their markets close and their communities deteriorate since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) passed in 1993. It is time for a new and fair trade agreement that supports independent farmers and fishermen and does not exploit workers or the environment for the unwarranted profits of multinational agribusinesses.
The USFRA was created in 2011 as a trade association uniting Big Ag corporations (such as Monsanto, Cargill and DuPont Pioneer) and marketing groups for commodities (including corn, soybeans, beef and pork). Take note: some of these groups are farmer-funded, but in reality, farmers have no choice but to fund them, and it is often at their own expense.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack appeared before the House Agriculture Committee last week to discuss the state of the rural economy and field questions on the implementation of the Farm Bill. Over the past few weeks USDA officials have appeared before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to discuss USDA’s proposed budget for FY2015. And as always, bills are being introduced on the Hill that would have real impacts on the lives of farmers. Here are some key highlights: