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‘Unjust Farm Laws will Increase Agribusiness’ Stranglehold’: US Farmers Extend Solidarity to Protests

‘Let us be clear: what the Indian farmers are enduring now happened in the U.S. almost four decades ago,’ their statement said.
‘Unjust Farm Laws will Increase Agribusiness’ Stranglehold’: US Farmers Extend Solidarity to Protests

Source: Financial Express 

A group of 87 food advocacy organisations and farmers from the US has expressed its solidarity with the farmers’ protests against the Farm Laws which have been ongoing for close to three months at Delhi’s borders. Farmers from Punjab have been protesting against the laws since July last year.

The farmers’ agitation has also led to massive mahapanchayats – essentially large village council meetings – being organised in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and in other states. One such maha rally in Barnala on Sunday reportedly attracted over two lakh farmers and workers.

India’s farmers have mobilised to create one of the world’s most vibrant protests in history, camping on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two and a half months,” their statement said. The signatories said they stood in solidarity with the farmers, as have others from across the world, against the “unjust farm laws that will increase agribusiness’ stranglehold over their food system.”

The statement also drew parallels to what had happened to agriculture in the US and what the farm laws in India could lead to, saying, “the US government has been eroding the concept of parity (similar to MSP in India) at home for decades.” Farmers from different states in India have been reiterating the same since the three laws were passed in controversial circumstances in September last year.

Let us be clear: what the Indian farmers are enduring now happened in the U.S. almost four decades ago. The Reagan era furthered the farm crisis through deliberate federal policy changes, with systematic erosion of parity prices and other deregulatory efforts. ‘Get big or get out’ has been our government’s mantra. Farmers with the means to consolidate have been rewarded for growing monoculture commodities. Tribal nations and traditional producers as well as small farmers who have always practiced or shifted to diversified agroecological farming have effectively been subsidizing the U.S. agriculture sector. It is rare for these food producers to make a living without supplemental income. Unsurprisingly, farm suicides in rural America are 45% higher than the rest of the population,” their statement said.

Here is the statement in its entirety:

U.S. farmers and allied food justice advocates express our solidarity with the farmer protests in India against the unjust farm laws that will increase agribusiness’ stranglehold over their food system.1 India’s farmers have mobilized to create one of the world’s most vibrant protests in history, camping on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two and a half months. Their rallying cry is to repeal the three unjust laws that were passed without their knowledge or consultation. We extend our solidarity to countless farmers who are peacefully and boldly standing up for their rights and dignity, with other farmers from across the globe.

One of the key demands of the movement is for farmers to receive a Minimum Support Price (MSP) — currently assured for just a few crops — for all produce, including vegetables, which are essential for healthy diets. This would ensure that farmers in India, already burdened by huge debts, receive a fair price for their produce. MSP is the price at which the Indian government also buys staple grains, like wheat and rice, from farmers for its public food programs so that the poor can access subsidized grains.2 While the Indian government only procures a small percentage for its food programs, the MSP is a key price signal to other traders in India, and it ensures that farmers receive a fair price for these specific crops.

We recognize the role of the U.S. government in creating the conditions that have led to these repressive laws. The U.S. has been a key opponent of India’s limited use of MSP at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S., with Australia, Canada and European allies, has claimed that India’s MSP distorts trade.

But, that is not surprising: the U.S. government has been eroding the concept of parity (similar to MSP in India) at home for decades. There is an opportunity for the Biden administration to shift U.S. trade policy to allow other countries to support fair markets for their farmers and shift agricultural policy to ensure that our food providers make a living wage.

While the U.S. agricultural sector receives inordinately large support compared to many countries, access to that support remains inequitable. In particular, Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian-Pacific and other people of color producers, who lack secure land tenure and are concentrated in vegetable and small -scale cattle sectors, have been excluded historically.3 Support flows to larger agribusiness farming operations instead of the independent family farmers whose voices we amplify.

Let us be clear: what the Indian farmers are enduring now happened in the U.S. almost four decades ago. The Reagan era furthered the farm crisis through deliberate federal policy changes, with systematic erosion of parity prices and other deregulatory efforts. “Get big or get out” has been our government’s mantra. Farmers with the means to consolidate have been rewarded for growing monoculture commodities. Tribal nations and traditional producers as well as small farmers who have always practiced or shifted to diversified

  1. A comprehensive article explaining what the massive, historic farmers’ protests in India are about can be found here.

  2. An overview to how the MSP impacts the various states of India can be found here.

  3. Movements for indigenous self-determination with rallying calls for #LandBack, and visionary bills like the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 reflect continuing need to redress these historical injustices in the U.S., similar to the advocacy of Adivasis, women and other farmers in India, who have suffered from generations of displacement.

agroecological farming have effectively been subsidizing the U.S. agriculture sector. It is rare for these food producers to make a living without supplemental income. Unsurprisingly, farm suicides in rural America are 45% higher than the rest of the population.

The WTO has indeed worsened an already unequal playing field between the Global South and Global North. What every nation-state can do, at the very least, is protect small farmers from deregulatory efforts, such as the three farm laws in India, that diminish the limited bargaining power that farmers have, pushing them off their farms. In the U.S., it is said that the previous administration’s agenda, “focused primarily around deregulation and increasing aid to commodity farmers while cutting food aid to needy families, [which] will have long-lasting implications.”

The Biden-Harris administration is off to a promising start, yet much work remains to be done on parity and environmental and racial justice in relation to food and agricultural policy domestically, as well as internationally. The U.S. government must stop prioritizing the interests of agribusiness over small farmers, abetting further corporatization of the food system here and in other countries. The U.S. must also endorse multilateral governance norms that will support India's transition to climate-resilient, biodiverse and water-conserving food systems that reach all producers. This would also mean harmonizing trade rules to include parity pricing and public crop procurement.

We have great respect for the unified struggles the farmers and farmworkers of Samyukt Kisan Morcha have built, and we stand with them. We urge both governments to support independent family farmers and localized food systems, ensuring food sovereignty and securing the livelihoods of millions who are the bedrock of its food security and nutritional wellbeing.

Statement Endorsed By:

  1. A Growing Culture

  2. Abanitu Organics

  3. AFGE Local 3354

  4. Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network

  5. Agricultural Justice Project

  6. Agroecology Commons

  7. Agroecology Research-Action Collective

  8. Alabama State Association of Cooperatives

  9. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

  10. Alliance for Progressive South Asians (Twin Cities)

  11. American Sustainable Business Council

  12. Americana World Community Center

  13. Ancestor Energy

  14. Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD Georgia

  15. Black Farmers & Ranchers New Mexico/National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association

  16. Buttermilk Falls CSA

  17. Center for Regional Agriculture Food and Transformation

  18. CoFED

  19. Community Agroecology Network

  20. Community Alliance for Global Justice

  21. Community Alliance with Family Farmers

  22. Community Farm Alliance

  23. Community Food and Justice Coalition

  24. Compassionate Action for Animals

  25. Disparity to Parity

  26. Earth Ethics Action

  27. East Michigan Environmental Action Council/Cass Commons

  28. Echo Valley Hope

  29. Ecologistas en Acción

  30. Ecosocialist Working Group, International Committee, Democratic Socialists of America

  31. Fair World Project

  32. Family Farm Action Alliance

  33. Family Farm Defenders

  34. Farm Aid

  35. Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

  36. Farmers On The Move

  37. Farmworker Association of Florida

  38. Ground Operations

  39. Health of Mother Earth Foundation

  40. i4Farmers

  41. Imagining Transnational Solidarities Research Circle

  42. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

  43. Institute for Earthbound Studies

  44. Just Transition Alliance

  45. Land Core

  46. National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

  47. National Family Farmers Coalition

  48. Natures Wisdom

  49. NC Climate Justice Collective

  50. NeverEndingFood

  51. North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project

  52. Northeast Organic Farming Association — Vermont

  53. Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter

  54. Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council

  55. OPEIU 39

  56. Peoples Architecture Commonwealth

  57. Pesticide Action Network North America

  58. Philadelphia Community farm

  59. Real Food Media

  60. Regenerative Organic Alliance

  61. Regenerative Rising

  62. Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA

  63. Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecropper Fund

  64. Rural Coalition

  65. Rural Development Leadership Network

  66. Rural Vermont

  67. Safe Food and Feed Foundation

  68. Santa Cruz Permaculture

  69. Science for the People

  70. Science for the People — Twin Cities

  71. Seeds for All

  72. Shaping Change Collaborative

  73. Sierra Club-USA

  74. Southeastern African-American Farmers' Organic Network

  75. Steward Foundation

  76. Texas Drought Project

  77. The Carbon Underground

  78. United People Community Organization, Market, and Farms

  79. University of MN Food Recovery Network

  80. Uprooted & Rising

  81. US Food Sovereignty Alliance

  82. Utopia Cornucopia

  83. Vision for Change Foundation

  84. Vitis and Ovis Farm

  85. Washington Biotechnology Action Council

  86. Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

  87. Women’s Environmental Institute

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