Saturday, 18 February 2012

Occupy the Food System

In December, Willie Nelson, President of Farm Aid, wrote an amazing piece for the Huffington Post. In it, he points out how concentrated the agricultural market is- a very small number of firms control the majority of the market, threatening competition and resulting in market abuses:

93% of soybeans and 80% of corn grown in the United States are under the control of Monsanto; four companies control up to 90% of the global trade in grain; 3 companies process more than 70% of beef in the U.S.; 4 companies dominate close to 60 % of the pork and chicken markets.

Nelson gives example of the power these large corporations have, overturning GIPSA in the US - proposed fair market contract rules under Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration that would have made it illegal for packers and slaughter houses to unfairly discriminate against independent farmers - and using $5.6 million in lobbying costs to overturn US Department of Agriculture rules that would have changed the standards for school lunches to reduce the amounts of starch and sodium and increase the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Despite all they're up against, family farmers persevere. Each and every day they work to sustain a better alternative -- an agricultural system that guarantees farmers a fair living, strengthens our communities, protects our natural resources and delivers good food for all. Nothing is more important than the food we eat and the family farmers who grow it. Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil, pollution of our water and health epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

We simply can't afford it. Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.

"We are farmers, we grow food for the people"

In March 2011, the Public Patent Foundation filed the landmark lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto on behalf of family farmers, seed businesses and farming organizations to challenge Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified (GMO) seeds and protect farmers from the biotech seed and chemical giant’s abusive patent infringement lawsuits.

At the heart
of the lawsuit is the threat that farmers face due to genetic trespass as a result of Monsanto’s GMO seed and the aggressive enforcement of their alleged patent rights.

I stand with Farmers vs. Monsanto

After hearing
the arguments, Judge Naomi Buckwald stated that on March 31st she will hand down her decision on whether the lawsuit will move forward to trial.

For more information and how to get involved, visit Food Democracy Now!

"Back to the Start"

Willie Nelson
teamed up with Chipotle to release this ad against factory farming and for sustainable agriculture. Download the song from itunes- proceeds go to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.