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April 17

Minute for Mission:  

International Day of Farmers’ Struggles

April 17, 2016

Small-scale farmers—women and men—feed us all. Their labor keeps us alive. They care for the soil, the seeds, the land and the waters. They make up nearly half of the people on the planet and produce more than 70 percent of the world’s food. Your first image may be of someone tilling the land with hand tools, an ox or a small tractor, but they are also farmworkers, pastoralists, small-scale livestock producers, fishers and indigenous producers in every country.

They do indeed struggle, and they direly need our prayers and support. We know this from our visits with our partners both in the United States and internationally. If not struggling for survival itself, they are often struggling to continue their “generational occupation”—the job of feeding the world.

From our partners in West Africa, South Asia and Latin America, we learn of the threats and murder of farmers and fisherfolk trying to hold onto their land and fisheries in the face of resource grabs by corporations and foreign states. We pray for their safety and for success in protecting their land and fisheries.

The seeds they have developed over decades, centuries and millennia are also under attack. Giant companies and patenting laws hidden in free trade agreements threaten to strip smallholding farmers of the heirloom and indigenous seeds that allow them to adapt to extreme weather and climate change. Saving seeds also makes farming affordable and can be the difference between prosperity and bankruptcy. We pray for their livelihoods and for the protection of seeds and biodiversity.

More broadly, small-scale producers have been bankrupted and had land bought or taken by industrial operations producing for export into the global marketplace due to three decades of economic, agricultural and international trade policy, which is often written by and favors agrifood corporations. We pray for fair markets and policies that prioritize people over profits.

Andrew Kang Bartlett, associate for national hunger concerns

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Tony Lewis, PPC                                                                                                  
Evelyn Leyba, PMA                                                                            
Joyce Lieberman, OGA

Let us pray

Loving God, we pray that you give farmers, fishers and farmworkers everywhere the strength to produce life-giving food and to prevail in their struggles for survival and for lives filled with dignity, justice and abundance. We pray also that you give us the steadfastness to remember the farmers and to stand in solidarity with them in their struggles. Amen.

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