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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Why Seed Companies Fear México

Orange, California – Last month México’s Supreme Court provided hope for biodiversity, especially in the Global South, while flaming fear for seed companies. In a historic step, it ruled for corn advocates and against genetically modified (GMO) corn. The decision was a momentous act in country where maíz (corn) carries daily and sacred significance.

This promises a way out of stale GMO debates that plague us. One side argues that genetic changes to seeds increase harvests. Seed companies and industrial agriculture make up this side. Another side says GMOs damage plant DNA.

Small-scale farmers and environmentalists stand on this side. Neither addresses the other. This standstill keeps GMO policies ineffective. The court’s decision offers a path out of this by cutting at seed company positions.

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Farmers And Civil Society Reject Corporate UN Food Systems Summit

The World Economic Forum and Gates Foundation are convening a food summit through the United Nations on September 23. Global farmer, peasant and fishing coalitions have called a boycott of the summit for its pro-corporate agenda, refusal to include the human right to food and exclusion of the intergovernmental body, the Committee on World Food Security, that has created an inclusive and democratized international structure. Clearing the FOG speaks with Patti Naylor, a family farmer in Iowa who works on agroecology and food sovereignty. She is on the board of Family Farm Defenders and a member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. Naylor describes the failures of the current global food system, how it is unprepared for the crises we are experiencing and that will occur and why it is headed in a dangerous direction. She talks about the global fight to change the food system to one that is flexible enough to respond to crises and that protects and restores the environment. 

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Not Just Another Drought

The American West is having a drought. So, what else is new? And, that’s just the point. The American West has been in an extended drought since 2000, so far the second worst in the last 1200 years. Here is the key quote from the National Geographic article cited above:

In the face of continued climate change, some scientists and others have suggested that using the word “drought” for what’s happening now might no longer be appropriate, because it implies that the water shortages may end. Instead, we might be seeing a fundamental, long-term shift in water availability all over the West.

That is what climate scientists have been warning about all along. The problems we are now experiencing are not just cycles or fluctuations—although those continue to be important—but rather, permanent changes in the climate (that is, on any timeline that matters to humans).

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Global Food Prices Post Biggest Jump In Decade

London – Global food prices have surged by the biggest margin in a decade, as one closely watched index jumped 40 per cent last month, heightening fears that the inflation initially stoked by pandemic disruption was accelerating.

The year-on-year rise in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) monthly index was the largest jump since 2011, as commodity prices surged.

The higher inflation will hit poorer countries reliant on imports for staple goods. For richer countries, the cost of raw ingredients accounts for only part of the overall price paid for products at supermarkets and restaurants. But the rise in raw material prices has been so steep that big firms like Nestle and Coca-Cola have said they would pass on any increases.

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Will US Farmers Follow India’s Lead?

Thousands of farmers in India are braving cold winter temperatures in the outskirts of New Delhi, their tractors and tents blocking traffic along three main roads leading to the capital city, in protest of new agricultural laws that farmers say leave them at the mercy of multinational corporations. The protests, which began in August, morphed into a general strike of 250 million workers on November 26, which has been called the largest-ever global demonstration.

The ongoing demonstrations have struck a chord with agricultural communities in North America, where solidarity protests were held throughout December, including a march to the Indian Consulate in Toronto and a protest outside of Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

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Saving Nature And Humanity Without Sacrificing Either

Saving nature without sacrificing modern life is the preeminent challenge of our time. It is a complicated problem that must be attacked simultaneously from multiple angles. Failure to act on one angle will invalidate efforts on other angles.

This problem must be addressed in two distinct phases. First, we must stop living in a manner that actively harms both ourselves and the natural world. Then, we must learn how to create a world where both nature and humanity thrive. This two-part article will explore how we can reorganize our civilization to be compatible with such a vision.

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How To Save Nature And Humanity Without Sacrificing Either

Saving nature without sacrificing modern life is the preeminent challenge of our time. It is a complicated problem that must be attacked simultaneously from multiple angles. Failure to act on one angle will invalidate efforts on other angles.

This problem must be addressed in two distinct phases. First, we must stop living in a manner that actively harms both ourselves and the natural world. Then we must learn how to create a world where both nature and humanity thrive. This two-part article will explore how we can reorganize our civilization to be compatible with such a vision.

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‘It’s A Beautiful Thing To Be Able To Feed Your Community’

A little over a year ago Abrianni Perry, a 28-year-old transplant from Houston, came to Cooperation Jackson to learn about cooperatives from people who’ve been doing it for decades. She’s been happily plunging her hands into the rich West Jackson, Mississippi ever since. 

“It’s a beautiful thing to be able to feed your community, especially in a food desert,” she says as she works the seven acres of the Fannie Lou Hamer Community Land Trust’s Freedom Farm in anticipation of the fall growing season. “The dirt is soft, and when it’s wet I feel like a little kid making mud pies.

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Testimonies From The Gloria Quintanilla Women’s Cooperative Of Nicaragua

When a group of campesinas in the community of Santa Julia, Nicaragua founded the Gloria Quintanilla Cooperative in 2008 with the Rural Workers’ Association (Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo – ATC), one of their basic rules was that men were not allowed to hurt women. With much struggle, they have rid their rural community of machismo and established a high value on women’s work. In collaboration with the ATC and the Sandinista government, the women have fought for and won land titles in their names, their own homes, access to education, improved roads, and most recently, a community water well. 

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Branding Nicaraguan Meat As ‘Conflict Beef’ Is The Latest Political Attack

Masaya, Nicaragua – Nicaraguan cattle ranchers, spurred by a surge in beef exports to the United States, are alleged to be attacking indigenous communities in eastern Nicaragua, destroying “pristine jungle,” forcing people to flee and killing those who resist, according to Reveal News. In a related report on PBS Newshour, beef imported from Nicaragua during the pandemic is said to “come at a high human cost,” while the Center for Investigative Reporting calls the imports “conflict beef.” These claims are based on allegations by the Oakland Institute in California, whose director Anuradha Mittal says that “the supply chain of beef from Nicaragua is anything but clean.”

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Feeding The People In Times Of Pandemic

In its 2019-2023 Strategic Plan for Nicaragua, the United Nations World Food Program said that “In the last decade… Nicaragua is one of the countries that has reduced hunger the most in the region,” while the government reports that chronic child malnutrition dropped from 21.7 percent in 2006 to 11.1 percent in 2019 for children under 5 years of age. Nicaragua was also one of the first countries to achieve Millennium Development Goal Number 1 of cutting undernutrition in half from 2.3 million in 1990-1992 to 1 million in 2014-2016, placing it among the countries of the region that had reduced hunger the most in the previous 25 years. Vitamin A deficiency among children under 5 was also eliminated.

Nicaragua’s advances are reflected in the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Hunger Map.

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USDA COVID-19 Farmer Relief Will Leave Out Farmers Most Impacted

The Trump Administration announced the impending opening of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) farmer aid payments to be delivered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

CFAP will make $16 billion in aid available to farmers who suffered economic losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it fails to meet its Congressional mandate to compensate all farmers fairly and represents a missed opportunity to help build more resilient food systems and markets that benefit both farmers and consumers. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition conducted an initial review of CFAP details released today and found several deficiencies that will limit the effectiveness of the program and the opportunity for many farmers to be compensated fairly for their losses.

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