On Contact: Struggle Against Industrial Agriculture

The San Joaquin Valley in California is the most agriculturally productive farmland in the United States, but it is also plagued by high levels of poverty and water pollution, as well as the serious health risks that come with constant exposure to pesticides. These huge corporate farms in California, established over the last century, became the model for modern agrobusiness designed to exploit a transient labor force, bankrupt, and seize small family farms, exhaust the soil, and drain the aquifers and reservoirs. These agrobusinesses use their economic might to buy elected officials, deform the court system to legalize their assault on the land, and silence criticism in academia and the press.

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Indian Government Forced To Withdraw Farm Laws

After fighting for almost a year, farmers in India finally won a victory against the three farms laws enacted by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government last year. Prime minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday, November 19, that the three laws would be repealed and all legal processes related to the matter will be completed during the upcoming session of parliament.

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Indian Farmers’ Struggle: The Past Ten Months

As farmers and workers in India observe a countrywide shutdown, here is a look at the past 10 months of the struggle against the three agricultural laws passed by the Narendra Modi government.

On September 27, Indian farmers’ organizations and trade unions are holding a country-wide shutdown demanding the withdrawal of the three agricultural laws and other anti-farmer and anti-worker measures. We take a look at the key milestones of the past 10 months of the farmers’ struggle.

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How Big Corporations And Bill Gates Took Over The UN Food Summit

This September 23, the United Nations holds its Food Systems Summit in New York.

Under the guise of the UN system, and despite sleight-of-hand language about “equal opportunities,” this summit represents a hostile takeover of world governance by corporate forces and the billionaire elite.

Today, social movements are standing up for democracy and against big capital’s devastation of their lands, farms, and communities.

The United Nations is based on the idea of multilateralism, where states seek peaceful solutions on the basis of equality and respect, replacing the colonialist institutions that preceded it.

That’s why for decades, the United States government has instead pushed for things like G-7, NATO, and other forms of control over geopolitics.

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There Is No Fixing This Industry

Ohio – My city sits on the western edge of a body of water that has figured large in the nation’s history, Lake Erie. My wife and I are fortunate to live in the part of Toledo where the lake is literally our front yard.

Grade school history classes, consisting mostly of memorizing wars and generals, taught that in the first battle for Lake Erie a small American fleet of wooden ships built in Erie, Pennsylvania, by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, defeated the British in the War of 1812 and that’s the reason Michigan and Ohio are not the southern boundary of Canada.

Later, I witnessed a second battle for Lake Erie in the 1960s and ’70s when outraged citizens demanded industries and cities quit dumping waste and raw sewage that threatened to turn the world’s 11th largest body of fresh water into a thick, fetid stew unable to sustain life.

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How The Meat Industry Is Climate-Washing Its Polluting Business Model

In February last year, the head of a leading global meat industry body gave a “pep talk” to his colleagues at an Australian agriculture conference. 

“It’s a recurring theme that somehow the livestock sector and eating meat is detrimental to the environment, that it is a serious negative in terms of the climate change discussions,” Hsin Huang, Secretary General of the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), told his audience. But the sector, he insisted, could be the “heroes in this discussion” if it wanted to.

“We cannot continue business as we have done in the past,” he went on. “If we are not proactive in helping to convince the public and policymakers in particular, who have an impact on our activities – if we are not successful in convincing them of the benefits that we bring to the table, then we will be relegated to has-beens.”

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Declaration Of The Counter-Mobilization To Transform Corporate Food Systems

The only just and sustainable path forward is to immediately halt and transform corporate globalized food systems. The first step on this path is fully recognizing, implementing, and enforcing the human right to adequate food. While foundational, the right to adequate food is indivisible from other basic human rights, such as the right to health, housing, safe working conditions, living wages, social protection, clean environments, and civil-political rights including collective bargaining and political participation, which collectively should be central to any food system process.

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Lake Erie Advocates Launch Billboard Against ‘Factory Farms’

Digital ads now showing on electronic billboards across Toledo and elsewhere in the state are part of a local campaign taking aim against concentrated animal feeding operations.

Mike Ferner, coordinator for Lake Erie Advocates, said during a news conference Thursday morning the ads showing an iconic photo of a glass of green Lake Erie water and cows and hogs on so-called “factory farms” are meant to provoke discussion.

“Nothing happens until we start talking about it, and that’s why we’ve kicked off this campaign to start the conversation about banning factory farms,” Mr. Ferner said. “When enough people demand that, it will happen, thousands of farmers will be able to go back onto the land that they’ve been kicked off of by this industry to produce the meat, milk, and eggs that we need just like they did a mere 20 years ago.”

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Scheer Intelligence: Something’s Rotten In The Science Of Food

Leading nutritionist Marion Nestle has spent much of her long illustrious career writing about what we eat and the science of food. The James Beard award-winner and author of the blog Food Politics has written a whopping 14 acclaimed books on subjects related to nutrition, including “Soda Politics” and “What to Eat.” And yet, “Unsavory Truths: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, ” a book journalist Robert Scheer calls one of her most important books to date, has gone largely ignored by mainstream media. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Nestle joins Scheer to discuss some of the shocking revelations  the author uncovered about the links between food science and the incredibly powerful food industry. 

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The Next Neocolonial Gold Rush?

Planning documents for the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit shed new light on the agenda behind the controversial food summit that hundreds of farmers’ and human rights groups are boycotting. The groups say agribusiness interests and elite foundations are dominating the process to push through an agenda that would enable the exploitation of global food systems, and especially Africa. 

The documents, including a background paper prepared for summit dialogues and a draft policy brief for the summit, bring into focus “plans for the massive industrialization of Africa’s food systems,” said Mariam Mayet, executive director of the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), who provided the documents to U.S. Right to Know.

The dialogues “are deaf and blind to the converging systemic crises we face today, and the drastic urgent re-think it demands,” ACB said in a statement.

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How ‘Big Ag’ Ate Up America’s Small Farms

The roads were icy and the wind biting cold as we started our 10,000-km journey through the heart of America one January morning. Sristy Agrawal, Rajashik Tarafder — young physicists pursuing their PhDs — Rumela Gangopadhyay, a theatre artiste, and I wanted to witness the state of farming in rural America, the quintessential “Trump country”.

Shooting in the frigid weather amid a pandemic was gruelling, but the warm welcome we got from farmers — Republican or Democrat, black or white — made up for it. We were surprised to learn that the American farm landscape, like India’s, is dominated by small farmers. They make up 90% of all farms, but produce only 25% of the market value. This was our first clue to America’s rural crisis. In the last decade, income of small farms has consistently been in the red.

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Argentine Vegetable Oil Workers Win Big Raises With Coordinated Strike

Argentina’s vegetable oil workers ended 2020 on a high note, with a triumphant 21-day national strike for higher wages. They were pushing to make the minimum wage a living wage, as the constitution mandates.

It was the country’s longest national strike of the year, and it ended in total victory: the unions won a 35 percent increase in wages for all of the workers, not just those earning the minimum. More than 20,000 working-class families won a decent wage for 2021. (In Argentina wages are negotiated in annual rounds of collective bargaining.)

Vegetable oil workers mainly work in factories and on docks, processing, classifying, and storing seeds and making oil.

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The Largest Strike In Human History

Radhakrishnan explains why farmers are rising up, how they are organized, and how the neoliberal government of Narendra Modi has responded to the movement.

Just one day after this interview, the Modi government raided the offices of Radhakrishnan’s employer, Newsclick.in, and detained its editors in what has been denounced as an act of intimidation against critical media. Learn more about the disturbing press crackdown here.

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Farmers’ Parade Takes Center Stage On India’s Republic Day

New Delhi, India – January 26, the day India became a Republic, is traditionally celebrated at Rajpath — the road from the India Gate to the President’s residence — in New Delhi. The ceremony includes a parade that is a display of the might of India’s military and showcases the cultural diversity of India. 

This year, however, the center stage was taken not by the ceremonial parade, but the farmers’ parade that was being held in the capital city. The peaceful rally of farmers on tractors was supposed to commence from three different points in the city and follow pre-approved routes for all three. While the government and authorities had grudgingly granted permission for the rally, there was a staggering deployment of police force throughout the parade.  

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Will The Supreme Court Overrule Farmworker Union Rights?

Not long before Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed suit against California’s farmworker access rule in federal court on behalf of two companies—Cedar Point Nursery in Siskiyou County and the Fowler Packing Company in Fresno. The foundation is a conservative libertarian group that holds property rights sacred and campaigns against racial equity. It fought hard for the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the high court.

The access regulation, which took effect after the passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, allows union organizers to come onto a grower’s property in the morning before work to talk with workers.

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