Posts Categorized: Agriculture

Food or Hunger? Land Grabs Turn World Food Day to World Hunger Day

logo of Asian Peasant CoalitionLand Grabbing is turning World Food Day into World Hunger Day for millions. See the Press Release below from the Asian Peasants Coalition. And speaking of peasants – which in most places around the world doesn’t have a negative connotation as it does with some in the U.S. – the Korean Women’s Peasant Association has won the 2012 World Sovereignty Prize and will be celebrated in New York City, along with other honorees including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who just won an agreement with Chipotle as part of their Campaign for Fair Food!

October 10 at 7:00 pm. You can attend in person or watch the live stream. Details here

Press Release
October 5, 2012
Asian Peasants to Declare “World Hunger Day”
On the Occasion of the World Food Day on October 16

The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and its members will organize simultaneous actions on the occasion of the UN FAOs World Food Day on  October 16, to highlight landlessness and chronic hunger.

The FAO said their official theme on October 16 is “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world. It says, it has been chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger. In addition,  FAO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) calls on agribusiness to step up investment from Central Asia to North Africa.  Furthermore, the two organizations called on governments to create an enabling policy environment that fosters private-sector investment.

“We condemn FAO and ERBDs statement. This is a continuation of what was engineered during the Rio+20 Summit last June 2012 in Brazil. Under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, both domestic and foreign investors, will be given legal authority to make it easy for them to further intensify land grabbing, to multiply plunder of available resources and step-up corporate takeovers of other vital sections of the economy,” stated Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general and concurrent secretary general of the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) based in Indonesia.

Ajiguna said that, “This will further expand agribusiness that will only exacerbated  landlessness, hunger, poverty, and  increased environmental destruction. This will further undermine the people’s right to food, agricultural progress and rural development as domestic agricultural production program is locked up of neo-liberal globalization.”

Land grabbing aggravates landlessness

“Meanwhile, international NGO GRAIN has recorded 400 cases of large-scale agricultural investments all over the world while 38 cases is in Asia (excluding Philippines-China deals which was suspended) . Nearly 2 million hectares of land in Asia (particularly in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, China, Timor Leste, Indonesia and the Philippines) have been subjected to these investments since 2006. It has resulted in increased landlessness, displacement of people, violations of human rights and degradation of natural resources, thereby further worsening poverty and hunger among small food producers<” remarked Zenaida Soriano, APC  Southeast Asia Coordinator and also the President of the National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN) in the Philippines.

Ajiguna added that, “In Indonesia, there is unceasing expansion of  palm oil  plantations in Jambi province. It invaded our forest and rice producing areas. There were around 259 permits palm oil  plantations covering more than 1.3 million hectares and about 980, 000 hectares have been planted (Provincial Disbun 2010).  In 9 villages in Mersam District in Batang Hari, 7,800 hectares of rice lands will be converted into palm oil. Palm oil plantation threatens rice self-sufficiency  program of the government and Indonesian people would end up seriously hungry.

Chronic Hunger

Soriano mentioned that, “ In South Asia, six out of 10 people are hungry and eight out of 10 underweight children live. Nearly 42 percent of Nepal’s children under five years are chronically undernourished. In India, 410 million people were living in poverty and eight Indian states are food insecure. In Sri Lanka, about 4 million people are undernourished. Children and pregnant women are most affected. In Pakistan, 83 million people were food insecure.  In Bangladesh, 70 million people are living in poverty and experiencing chronic hunger and malnutrition.”

Soriano revealed that, “In Southeast Asia, 87 million people in Indonesia are food-insecure, of which 25 million are severely hungry. In the Philippines, one out every four Filipinos suffers from hunger.  Of the 103.7 million Filipinos, 25 million are hungry. Worst, the floods, droughts, earthquakes and other natural disasters as well as state repression cause widespread destruction and force them to abandon their homes and farms.”

World Hunger Day

Ajiguna and Soriano announced that,  “On October 16, the APC will declare ‘World Hunger Day’ on the occasion of the World Food Day 2012. We will do this to emphasize the real situation that the rural people are landless. That landlessness is worsening by large-scale land grabbing of local and foreign investors in agriculture which aggravates chronic hunger experience by the rural poor. Unfortunately, the world’s food producers are the most food-insecure and hungry people..Having no land to till makes them more vulnerable of hunger. Many of them, are seasonal farm workers.

On  October 16, the APC will simultaneously organize different activities across Asia.  In the Philippines, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) will lead a protest in front of the Department of Agriculture.  A peasant caravan against land grabbing in the City of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan will follow on October 17-18 and will culminate on October 19. In Sri Lanka, the Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)  will organize week of action in many parts of the country. In Nepal,  different events in 45 districts will be organized by All Nepal  Peasants Federation ( ANPFa).  The Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU) in India will organize simultaneous demonstration opposing land grabbing in 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh while a People’s Biodiversity Camp will be held in Hyderabad.  Similar actions will be held in Indonesia, and Pakistan.”

“We demand for a genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty to resolve chronic hunger. The victory of the Isabela farmers and its people against Itochu (Japan)s  bioethanol plant is a concrete example. They were able to shut down the bioethanol plant. And they are now planting rice and corn in more than 1,000 hectares of land they reclaimed from EcoFuel. Meanwhile, the AGRA, together with other farmers groups  in Indonesia, led thousands of peasants on January 2012,  and mobilized in front of the Presidential Palace and Parliament, resulting to a special legislative committee to address agrarian conflict….  These actions are peasant-led and directly benefitted the local peasant communities. Let us continuously reclaim lands that have been grabbed and plant it with food crops,” Ajiguna and Soriano ended. 

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Huerto-Garden de-of la-the Familia-Family

We have been honored to be able to support Huerto de la Familia through donations to the One Great Hour of Sharing. Huerto is a dynamic initiative which works in Oregon to expand opportunities and training in organic agriculture and business creation to families with the least access, but whom have great potential to benefit. Many of these families are Latino, thus the Spanish name. I learned a lot from these wonderful short videos Huerto created this year, and you may too.

The first film in a three-part series, Harvest of Pride: Cultivating Community features the stories of families, social workers and community practitioners. While news media continue to focus mostly on the “hunger problem”, the film points to the largely ignored epidemic of food insecurity among Latinos and immigrants.

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What is the most critical law you can think of that affects hungry people, farmers, developing countries and the health of the land – and, well, everybody?

cartoon farmer on tractorWhenever Presbyterians approach our food and farm policies, we can hang our hats on our faith conviction “that God our Creator has made the world for everyone, and desires that all shall have daily bread” (UPCUSA, Minutes, 1979, p. 189). This underlying conviction of a right to food shapes our advocacy about agriculture and the food system.

With this value in mind, you can weigh in on the Farm Bill debates that are heating up in our nation’s capital ~ Write to your Senators about the Farm Bill today! This link takes you straight to the PCUSA which allows you to reach your Senators in less than a minute. Seriously. Time yourself.

“Why would I do that? you ask . . .

Well, our nation’s food and farm policies, as embodied in the U.S. Farm Bill, impact people and communities from rural America, to urban centers, to developing countries – hundreds of millions of people! In the current budget climate, the Farm Bill’s limited resources must be targeted effectively where the need is greatest. We must prioritize programs and policies that curb hunger and malnutrition, support vibrant agricultural economies in rural communities, and promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has joined with the interfaith community to call for a Farm Bill that promotes local food security in the U.S. and around the world, strengthen rural communities, and care for the land as God’s creation. 

The Senate is currently debating the reauthorization of the Farm Bill – the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 – and consideration promises to drag out for over a week, as hundreds of amendments will be offered.  Your Senators need to hear from you about a just and healthy Farm Bill.

The letter will do this automatically, but let’s lay out the important issues. What we want is a Farm Bill that:

  1. Restores cuts to the SNAP program, while reforming crop insurance subsidies.  Senator Gillibrand has introduced an amendment to this effect.
  2. Fully funds conservation programs, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, and preserves the conservation compact, making sure that enrollment in any new insurance subsidies are tied directly to compliance with conservation programs.
  3. Includes full mandatory funding for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers through the 2501 title. Senator Udall has introduced an amendment to this end.
  4. Includes all elements of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 1773) introduced by Senator Brown.
  5. Includes the Packer Ban to limit consolidation in the meat industry, in accordance with the amendment introduced by Senator Grassley.
  6. Robustly funds the Rural Development title, which is essential for spurring rural economic activity and creating jobs.
  7. Shifts our food and farm policy away from price supports that advantage the large, industrial farms, and instead levels the playing field for small and medium-sized growers, as well as a new generation of farmers.          

Right?!

U.S. food and agricultural policy must focus on adopting best agricultural practices that put the health of its citizens, the land and the livelihood of farmers and farm workers over the interests of a small number of large, industrial agriculture operations.  Stand up to protect not only farmers, without whom we would all go hungry, but to enact a food and farm bill that fairly and judiciously serves the interests of all Americans. 

In a 1985 statement, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly wrote “we believe it is the responsibility and duty of the Federal government to enact a comprehensive, long-term food and fiber policy, with specific price, production and conservation goals designed to protect and enhance family-farm agriculture in the United States … We believe further that this nation must establish a strong system of sustainable agriculture and prevent the continuing concentration of land in the hands of a smaller and smaller number of owners” (Minutes, 1985, p. 399).

You’re still reading? Click here and register your beliefs with your civil servants sitting in Congress.

Now!

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Farm Bill Debate Renews!

Steph Larsen leading a workshop

Photo credit: Shawn Poynter

Steph Larsen is on staff at the Center for Rural Affairs. Here she is leading a workshop at the National Rural Assembly in St. Paul, MN

     “Under current law, if one big corporation farmed the entire country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would pay 60 percent of its insurance premiums on every acre.”

Sounds crazy, right? Yet this is reality and illustrates the way our food and farm policies give a hand up to the largest farms, while small-scale family farmers are largely neglected.  The article below (excerpted) from our partner, Center for Rural Affairs, points to the kinds of changes needed in the 2012 Farm Bill (yes, it should be called the Food and Farm Bill). Read what is important to our neighbors in rural areas of the country.

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Power on our Plates

When my daughter was in kindergarten, she would inspect her friends’ strawberries at lunchtime. “No no, you don’t want to eat that,” she would solemnly inform them. “It’s not organic. It might have yucky chemicals on it.”

Yucky chemicals indeed. Studies continue to pile up showing how pesticides on food can be harmful, especially to children’s health. As we head into the home stretch of the holiday feast season, I’ve been thinking hard about the powerful ripple effects of our food choices. Turns out, what we eat matters. A lot. (from Pesticides Action Network’s “Power on our plates“)

boy with kale in the snowIt does matter because “you are what you eat” is not an allegory; it is literally true. The substances that pass between your lips become your very own skin, muscle, cartilage, ligaments, nails, bones, blood, lymph and cerebral spinal fluid. Not to mention your organs, nerve cells and the two dozen digestive enzymes that break down food.

Take, for example, my daughter’s now-favorite veggie, spinach: USDA found residues of 48 pesticides on their official samples. Of these, 25 are suspected to interfere with human hormones, eight are linked to cancer, eight are neurotoxins and 23 are toxic to honeybees. Yucky. Knowing all this makes the organic spinach from our local farm taste especially good.

Unlike pre-WWII food, today’s food typically delivers one or more poisons to our cells because industrial farming, and its chemical dealers — Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Dow, Dupont and others — are at war with weeds and pests. But many pests keep winning as they develop resistence. Ever more toxins are needed. Children are most effected because they eat more fruits and vegetables and are more sensitive. But it is often when we are adults that the long-term effects hit us.
What to do?
1) First, educate yourself by finding out what’s on your food (you can search by food item or pesticide)
2) Second. Consider joining Pesticides Action Network; becoming a PCUSA Earth Care Congregation and joining Presbyterians for Earth Care.
3) Third. Thank the next farmer you meet who is engaging in sustainable and organic practices and buy their last bunch of kale!

 

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Hunger Program partner highlights labor rights for World Food Day

World Food Day!

World Food Day happens on October 16. The US Food Sovereignty Alliance, of which the FCWA is a member, is joining with La Via Campesina and food sovereignty movements to call on people and organizations to fashion the food and farming future we need—a future of communities, regions and nations revitalized with local food, democracy, sustainability and justice.

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PCUSA congregation plans for World Food Day

food for life with grain flying

Ashley Goff, the associate pastor at the PCUSA Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C. sent us their plans for World Food Day (October 16) and the Food Week of Action.

Here is how she explained it ~~

“We are honoring the Food Week of Action starting October 9th and wanted to share our current plan. At Church of the Pilgrims, we are honoring Food Week in this way:
During our education hour prior to worship, we are having one of our members, Erin LittleStar who is active in sustainable food practices and local food/faith advocacy lead us in an hour of learning more about the food cycle and systems. This is an intergenerational event.

At the end of the hour, we are going to invite people to make 4 choices to honor the week in a practical way:

  1. Compost for a week: We have two standing composts at Pilgrims along with worm composting. People will be invited to compost for a week and bring the compost to church the following Sunday.

  2. SNAP Challenge: One of our members works for the Dept of Agriculture, specifically around SNAP, and recently did a SNAP Challenge with her colleagues. The challenge is to eat for a week on your amount you would receive for food stamps. (See how it works below)

  3. Local Food: Eat one meal a day with locally grown food.

  4. Intentional Prayer: Set an intention before each meal, snack, drink for the week. Setting an intention and honoring where the food has come from and naming if the food with be healthy or destructive to your body (and in turn to the planet).

Each session will be led by a church member who has been doing this practice and can explain the nitty-gritty.

After church, we are having a beekeeping 101 session and a farmer’s market group shopping experience. We have 5 beehives at Pilgrims which pollinate our urban garden (plus areas around us) and our beekeeper is coming to give us more information on our hives, feed the bees, etc.

Erin will be taking another group to our local farmers market to meet some farmer’s, shop for the SNAP challenge and have hands on learning around local food, seeing food as more than fuel but a faith experience.

Worship will be part of Food Week in some way. Yet to be determined!”

You can find all the resources you need for World Food Day and the Food Week of Action on the PCUSA’s Food and Faith website.


 Take the SNAP Challenge:

STEP 1 – Eat on $4/day for a week, a month or longer if you so choose. 

STEP 2 – Experience hunger for yourself and the difficulties faced by hungry people everywhere.

STEP 3 – Engage others by sharing your experience. We encourage you to keep a journal, post to our Facebook page, email us your story or simply share your feelings with with friends, family and coworkers.


And you? Consider getting your congregation to do something for Sunday, World Food Day ~ October 16. How about organizing a group meal? Just email us at php@pcusa.org and we will send you free placemats. No cost. Table discussion questions and other downloadable resources can be found here.

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