EHNE-Bizkaia--the Basque union of small farmers and ranchers--has been working to advance food sovereignty since La Vía Campesina's foundational congress in 1993. In Euskal Herría (the Basque Country) the struggle for food sovereignty is embedded in a broader struggle for political and cultural autonomy, drawing on a long history of Basque resistance against fascism and state-sponsored repression. A strong model of local cooperative food production thrives in the region, as part of a framework of community empowerment and solidarity economy.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), perhaps the world's most ambitious free trade agreement, is currently under negotiation. What began as a small regional free trade agreement has become one of the primary tools in the United States' geopolitical pivot towards the Asia-Pacific region. The agreement--negotiated in secrecy--will dramatically expand the rights of corporations over those of food producers, consumers, workers and the environment.
Deciding how America will nourish itself and sustain its farms would seem a top policy priority— yet as the US Farm Bill demonstrates, sustainably grown, healthy food and livable incomes for farmers and workers remain an afterthought in a process controlled almost entirely by agribusiness and a handful of farm-state legislators. Despite strong public opinion supporting local food, farmer’s markets, organic agriculture, food workers’ rights and access to fresh produce, agribusiness and commodity interests continue to dominate food and farming policy.
The 'global land rush' is grabbing headlines. While media coverage has focused on the role of hedge funds, retirement funds, sovereign wealth and 'new colonialist' purchases of vast tracts of land in Africa and Asia, academic research is uncovering a broader pattern. As global land values increase, land ownership is becoming increasingly concentrated, even where there have been few reports of land grabbing. Researchers are uncovering patterns of dispossession that are even deeper, wider and potentially more devastating for rural local communities than is generally acknowledged.
Microcredit has often been presented as an archetypal tool for addressing rural poverty. By placing small loans directly into the hands of women, proponents have argued that microcredit is able to achieve two feats simultaneously. First, it tackles poverty by unleashing the entrepreneurial abilities of the rural poor. Second, it breaks down patriarchal barriers by empowering women. Portrayed as a simple, progressive and effective development intervention, there seemed little to dislike about microcredit.
Over the past decade, the US food movement has grown to become a potent force for social change. Precisely because of its success, the movement now is being called to shore up the status quo. Revisiting some radical roots suggests ways that the food movement can end hunger in America, rather than becoming just another band-aid alleviating poverty.
By Josh Viertel, Slow Food USA
When I talk to a crowd of people who are new to the food movement, I often begin by asking them, “How many of you have committed an agricultural act in the last 24 hours? Please raise your hand.” In crowds of over 200 people, I usually see about six hands go up. I call on them: “What did you do?” “I watered my tomatoes.” “I mowed my lawn.” Occasionally, I’m surprised to hear that someone collected eggs from a backyard chicken coop, but most of the time, there are a few home gardeners in the audience, and that’s it.
By Christopher M. Bacon, Kaelin Holland and Eric S. George
Cartoon copyright by John Klossner 2011. Originally from Small Farmer big change.
By Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Agriculture is at a crossroads. For almost 40 years neither the private sector nor governments have invested in agricultural research. In recent years, agrifood companies have increased direct and vertical capital investment to lower costs and ensure the long-term viability of supplies. The global food price crisis of 2007-2008 is now pushing governments to act.
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