celebrate with farmworkers in vermont

posted October 21, 2017

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migrantjustice.net

As part of Food Week of Action, today we are celebrating with farmworkers in vermont and as we recognise the huge milestone that was reached in the food and farming world earlier this month.

On Tuesday October 3, farmworker leaders from Migrant Justice and the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s jointly signed the Milk with Dignity agreement.  The legally-binding contract establishes Ben & Jerry’s as the first company in the dairy industry to implement the worker-driven human rights program.  This momentous occasion marks the beginning of a new day for dairy, one that provides economic relief and support to struggling farm owners, in the form of a premium paid by Ben & Jerry’s, while ensuring dignity and respect for farmworkers.

Migrant Justice spokesperson Enrique “Kike” Balcazar spoke to those assembled before he signed the agreement himself to mark the historic moment:

“This is an historic moment for dairy workers.  We have worked tirelessly to get here, and now we move forward towards a new day for the industry.  We appreciate Ben & Jerry’s leadership role and look forward to working together to implement a program that ensures dignified housing and fair working conditions on dairy farms across the region. And though this is the first, it won’t be the last agreement of its kind.”

Read the full article by migrant justice HERE.


help puerto rico get back on it’s feet in the aftermath of the hurricane maria – send seeds!

posted October 14, 2017

Hurricane Maria
credit: US Department of Defence

Dear young farmers,

If you are feeling in this circus of crises that our response to the common plight of a planet in an un-natural spin defines us as a society, and that the scar tissues formed over the wounded parts of ourselves and our lands— then perhaps you will resonate with the campaign undertaken by a number of our favorite organic seed companies to send free seeds down to the farmers and gardeners of Puerto Rico.

YOUR EXTRA seeds, or your mothers’ and aunties and favorite foodie customers extra seeds— are most valued by the Puerto Ricans struggling to rebuild their resilience.

If you have a list of folks or a blog or an instagram, or a CSA pickup shed— perhaps you can post this information so that more benevolent biodiverse, material and solidaritous energy can flow down to the hurricane islands.

Seeds (non-gmo, nutritionally dense crops, fast growing, low maintenance, pest or disease resistant, and easy to save seeds) can be sent directly to the farmers on the ground in Puerto Rico via this mailing address:

PUERTO RICO RESILIENCY FUND
Calle Salva #657
Urb. Miramar
San Juan PR 00907
(preferred)
-or-
961 Bergen St, Apt 4B
Brooklyn, NY, 11216

There are a number of other ways you can help if sending seeds is not an option:

  1.  Donate to one of the trusted organizations listed at the end of this post.
  2.  Donate food (fresh, prepared or canned) and drinking water (preferably water filters, specifically those used for camping) directly.  These types of items can be mailed to:

Fondo Resiliencia Puerto Rico, 

Calle Oneill #135, 

Hato Rey, PR, 00918

  1. Donate machinery/equipment: farming tools, generators, chainsaws, wood chippers, solar equipment, 5 gal. gas tanks (empty), etc. – these larger items can be sent to the same address as the seeds.

Puerto Rico Agroecology Funds post Hurricane Maria:

http://www.americasforconservation.org/mx-pr-resilience-fund

https://www.gofundme.com/rescue-prs-sustainable-agriculture

https://www.gofundme.com/5markets

http://www.desdemihuerto.com/so/dLw_kaEP#/main


action alert! upcoming farm bill listening sessions.

posted July 29, 2017

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pictured: Colin Thompson, a Community Food Systems Educator for Michigan State University Extension credit: OFRF

As the next Farm Bill approaches, the House Agriculture Committee members are beginning to gather input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders. As you may know, several current programmes that contribute to the success of organic agriculture are under threat of elimination as so it is imperative that policy makers hear directly from organic farmers, researchers and organic farming advocates.

There are three upcoming listening sessions in the next week organised by the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

Monday July 31 2017 – 1.00 pm. Texas

Angelo State University,
C.J. Davidson Conference Centre,
1910 Rosemont Drive,
San Angelo, Texas

Thursday, August 3, 2017 – 9:30 a.m. Minnesota 

Farmfest,
Gilfillan Estates,
28366 Co. Hwy 13,
Morgan, Minnesota

Saturday, August 5, 2017 – 9:00 a.m. Modesto, California
Address to yet to be announced.

If you are hoping to speak at one of the listening sessions, arrive early as the opportunity to speak will be decided on a first come first served basis and speaking time will likely be restricted to approximately 2 minutes.

Recently, at OFRF’s recommendation, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced H.R. 2436, the Organic Agriculture Research Act (OARA). This historic bipartisan legislation reauthorizes USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), and increases its mandatory funding from $20 million to $50 million annually. If passed, the Organic Agriculture Research Act would become part of the 2018 Farm Bill. It is important to show your support now.

If you would like more information about the listening sessions or the issues at stake, please email policy@ofrf.org.


guess who’s going to congress

posted April 11, 2017

NYFC_FPS_Banner_blog

We are unbelievably proud and excited to stand with over 100 organizations in support of the Young Farmer Success Act, a bill that would help our nation’s young farmers manage their student loan debt and has finally gotten to the floor of congress. The legislation has been in the works for years now, due in large part to the National Young Farmers Coalition, and there’s no exaggerating how much it would support new farmers and dramatically increase access to both farming and farmland. Take action now to tell your member of Congress to co-sponsor HR 1060. (And be sure to send The National Young Farmers Coalition a thank you letter when it passes!)


wages, immigration, and a labor shortage on california farms

posted March 30, 2017

CA Fruit Picking

According to a recent article in the LA Times, wages are up for farm workers in California and some farms are even offering perks (think 401(k), health care, vacation days, and profit-sharing bonuses) that were often unheard of in the world of agriculture. So why, then, are farmers struggling with what sounds like a crippling labor shortage? Paired with an increasingly restrictive immigration policy, the article suggests that it’s because native-born Americans simply don’t want to work in the fields:

But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey.

What do you think? Although the article has its holes and shortcomings, it’s a great start to a debate that must be had in California and throughout the country. Give the entire piece a read by clicking HERE.


ice detained migrant farmer activists: thousands responded.

posted March 28, 2017

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Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR.

Though those who live farther away from the muddy melting snow of Southern New England, may not have caught wind of the migrant rights struggle that has been playing out between farms and courthouses around the region, it’s worth everyone’s attention.

Since the ICE arrest and detention of farmworkers and Migrant Justice leaders Jose Enrique “Kike” Balcazar Sanchez and Zully Palacios Rodriguez on March 16, hundreds of people have gathered around Vermont and in Boston to demand the young activists release. Migrant Justice is a Vermont-based organization that organizes three regional migrant worker communities to advocate for human rights and economic justice. Especially considering some of the anecdotes in this excellent piece by LatinoUSA.org on their case, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which immigration officials are not intentionally targeting human rights leaders for deportation.

Both are in their early twenties, neither with any prior arrests, and they were on their way home from the Migrant Justice center when they were stopped. Balcazar, as LatinoUSA reports, “is an active community organizer in Vermont, and served on Vermont attorney general T.J. Donovan’s Immigrant Task Force, which was created in January as a response to President Trump’s immigration executive orders.”

(more…)


support the young farmer success act

posted March 17, 2017

Hey friends, Last month, Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and John Faso (R-NY) reintroduced the Young Farmer Success Act (H.R. 1060), a bill to provide student loan forgiveness to young farmers.
This is an initiative which could have a very positive impact, not only on current farmer, but by encouraging more young folks to join us in the field.
Tell your representative’s that this is an important issue! Take a moment to head over to the National Young Farmers Coalition to sign on.

save the rainforest: revisiting an old battle

posted March 4, 2017

rainforest

Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT for Center for International Forestry Research

Some bad news from a recent article in the New York Times:

A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world. That resurgence, driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops, is raising the specter of a backward slide in efforts to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change.

Large American-based food giants such as Cargill are fueling this destruction, as they look for increasingly remote areas, where regulation and protection laws are limited, to source their crops. There’s also some next level hypocrisy going on, as Cargill and other similar companies had signed deals in recent years promising to curb their role in deforestation.

You can read the entire article HERE (highly recommended!), but this is a reminder that no cause can be forgotten: stay vigilant! Also, give some thought to your soy consumption, in its many iterations:

A major culprit is the cultivation of soy, which has jumped more than 500 percent in Bolivia since 1991, to 3.8 million hectares in 2013, according to the most recent agricultural censuses. Little of that soy is consumed domestically. The vast majority is processed and exported as animal feed in a commodities trade that serves a global appetite for hamburgers, chicken and pork.


“ditching NAFTA” may hurt american farmers, but which ones?

posted February 17, 2017

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515380213/515638250

NPR’s The Salt spoke to American farmers growing products (strawberries) in and outsourcing their products (milk, powdered) to Mexico. And no doubt, these industrial farmers will either pay more to import and export their crops and could lose potential markets. Given, however, that NAFTA’s effect on small and medium farms in this country– which we rarely mentioned in the discussion– has been largely detrimental, and NAFTA’s effect on small farmers in Mexico has been unequivocally disastrous, we wonder how this conversation could be extended to address small-scale sustainable agriculture.  Greenhorns, policy buffs, what do you think? Surely, it is not always true that what is bad for industrialized ag is good for sustainable ag, but….

What do you think, Greenhorns, specifically our economics buffs out there, what will it mean for young agrarians and small farms if the US “ditches NAFTA?”


real leaders lovin climate

posted February 13, 2017

climate-lovin

In the age of twitter leadership and instagram bill signings occasionally we see something that’s worth mention.

The Swedish government has just signed a new climate action plan that commits to phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2045. Really no need to contrast that historic decision with the likes of which we have been seeing here on US soil. In fact let’s leave it to a photo which, as we know, seem to say a lot more than words these days. In the above picture Isabelle Lovin, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister, is signing the bill surrounded by her all female staff.

I don’t know, let’s just close with #realleadership

check this article out for inspiration.