Food First's blog
I’ve recently returned from Food First’s whirlwind reality tour to Mexico: “Along the Immigrant Trail.” We visited five cities (El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Oaxaca City) six villages (Santa Isabel, Anáhuac, Vicente Guerrero, Guelatao, Nochixtlán, and Zaragoza. We met with eleven organizations, spoke with Mexican congressional representatives, and participated in a Via Campesina international meeting on NAFTA – All in eleven days!
The 2007 Farm Bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, July 27th with a vote of 231 to 191, after surprisingly little debate.
On Thursday, July 19th, the House Agriculture Committee passed a new Farm Bill for the United States. This new bill continues to perpetuate many of the inequalities of the 2002 Farm Bill, and still needs to address many issues before it can be voted on by the House of Representatives, most likely before the end of the month.
NOW IS THE TIME to contact your local Representative, to let them know that WE NEED A FAIRER FARM AND FOOD BILL!
Some details of the current Farm Bill:
By Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition and Dennis Olson, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
July 13, 2007
By Eric Holt-Giménez, Ph.D., Executive Director,
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
At a Food Sovereignty session held by Agricultural Missions, Lucas Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers provided an update on their current campaign to hold Burger King accountable for the poor wages and working conditions of the farmworkers that pick their tomatoes (several cases of modern slavery were discovered).
Greetings from the U.S. Social Forum!
Atlanta is abuzz with social movement. Thousands of delegates, sessions, discussions, and refreshingly hopeful visions for another world.
May 12 This news just in from Eco-Farm and USAgNet. This is the same industrial model of corporate consolidation that is currently the basis for the biofuels boom, i.e., the merger of major genetic engineering companies with giant grain and cellulose companies. Encountering resistance to GMOs in our food system, Monsanto and Syngenta are looking to spread them into our fuel and fiber industries.
The legitimate struggle of the National Black Farmers Association is the first of many to come. Stopping Monsanto here is important for all of us.
May 9th- Under public pressure, the National Organic Program re-considered its recent decision to abandon the group certification process used by hundreds of thousands of small-scale organic farmers in the Global South.
From:Rob Everts, Executive Director
On April 18th we notified you, and about 5,000 others, that the USDA had recently issued a new policy that threatened the organic certification of small-scale farmers the world over, including the thousands of coffee, tea, cocoa and sugar growers that we partner with.
(Jakarta, April 17 2007) The international peasant’s movement La Via Campesina is celebrating today the International Peasant’s Struggle Day by organising events all around the world.
In about 20 countries (*) peasants and small farmers’ organisations and their allies will organise more than 50 events such as conferences, demonstrations, street theatre, film screenings, rural markets and debates on issues as diverse as the impact of industrial agriculture on global warming and the control of supermarkets over the food chain.
April 8th, Pacifica radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California, featured a panel entitled "Food or Fuel? Do we have to choose?" on the Sunday Salon program, hosted by Sandra Lupien.
Guests Tom Philipott, farmer-writer from North Carolina, and Isabella Kenfield, a free-lance U.S. journalist living in Brazil, were both highly critical of the biofuels boom. However, Jake Caldwell, of the Center for American Progress staked out what is probably the mainstream U.S. view. He insisted that corn ethanol was a sustainable energy source that would revitalize rural economies around the world, IF carefully regulated. He then gushed over the future potential of cellulosic ethanol, the next generation biofuel.
The notion that biofuels will be fair and green as long as they are properly regulated and made primarily from cellulosic materials (like switchgrass and trees) rests on two basic and very heroic assumptions:
The USDA has done it again.
Remember when the U.S. Department of Agriculture tried to relax organic standards for the agri-foods industry by accepting irradiated food, genetically engineered organisms, and sewage sludge as “organic”?
It took a sustained outcry from organic producers and consumers to keep the agency from destroying the meaning of organic. Get ready. It is happening again, only this time they have set their myopic sights set on small-scale coffee farmers in the Global South.
Wednesday night’s “Food Fight!” hosted by Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma featured a panel of researchers, farmers, farmworkers and activists including George Naylor, Carlos Marentes, Ken Cook, and Ann Cooper. Panelists addressed the 2007 Farm—and Food—Bill. Pollan warned the sold-out crowd they would likely leave more confused than when they went in. Why?
Because the Farm Bill is a multi-billion dollar legislative stew that reads like Cyrillic alphabet soup. Here's the recipe:
Food and fuel have always been integrally related. Pre-industrial agriculture produced fuel for draught animals on or within walking distance of the farm. Then Northern agriculture industrialized, commodifying both food and fuel, and separating them into distinct markets. Promising to eliminate world hunger, the Green Revolution brought us overproduction, nitrate pollution, the pesticide treadmill, and eventually made most of the world’s farmers dependent on petroleum-based inputs. Fuel was still used to produce food. Then came peak oil. Now food is being used to produce fuel.