United States

New Farm Bill Leaves Many Families and Farmers Out in the Cold

The new version of the Farm Bill passed by Congress on February 4, 2014, and signed by President Obama three days later leaves several critical programs around nutrition and programs to support family farmers underfunded. The legislation is problematic on many levels, starting with the three below.

Remembering a Family Farm Defender and Champion -- John Kinsman, Presente!

John Kinsman was far more than a Wisconsin dairy farmer, though he proudly was that. He was a pioneer of organic and sustainable farming in the United States and a tireless advocate for global food sovereignty. John Kinsman died yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, after a long life of struggle, humor and compassion.

A fourth generation farmer, John founded Family Farm Defenders to empower farmers to speak for and respect themselves in their quest for social, economic and racial justice. A 2012 profile in The Progressive, describes some of his accomplishments:

Veolia, a target of human rights organizations, derailed in Massachusetts

Since our office is in Boston, Grassroots International takes special satisfaction with the ouster of Veolia from running Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad system here. Veolia’s operation in the occupied West Bank has made it a consistent target of human rights organizations, including Grassroots International and our allies. We join with other members of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, which initiated the “Derail Veolia” campaign. While we celebrate this moment, we recognize the importance of continuing to push for the MBTA and MassDOT to recognize human rights as part of its decision-making – including both international concerns as well as the need to ensure good jobs and local hiring.

Haitian Movements Speak Out Against Monsanto, Offer Community-led Solutions

Haiti’s peasant movements are reforesting the countryside, building irrigation systems, feeding communities – just to name a few activites that are improving lives for rural communities across the nation. In the video below,  members of Haiti’s Group of Four (G4) and the Dessalines Brigade describe how Haiti’s peasant movement connects with the struggle for food sovereignty in the United States, and globally. The video includes Grassroots International partners from Haiti and Brazil speaking at an Occupy the Food Prize rally on October 17, 2013 in Des Moines.

Advances on the Journey to Food Sovereignty and Human Rights

This last year has seen many advances around the globe for communities and activists pushing to regain their fundamental human rights to land, water, and food.  As we now approach the end of 2013, we take this opportunity a look back at some of the accomplishments that have marked the year.  In spite of the great challenges—and seemingly insurmountable odds—there is much to celebrate.  Below are some of many highlights from the last year.

Winning land for formerly landless farmers in Brazil

If Farming Is Hard, Free Trade Makes It Harder

Being a farmer is hard.  This is true no matter what policies exist. The work itself is difficult, and making money from farming requires many, many factors to line up just right.  Get too much rain, too dry a season, too many bugs and the crop can be destroyed.  Prices might be higher, but there’s just not that much to sell.  Even a big harvest when everything goes well doesn’t guarantee success. A bumper crop means that there are a whole lot of tomatoes, corn, peaches, or eggplants at the market, so prices go down.

Scaling up Agroecology: A new report from IATP offers a tool for policy

Agroecology is not just a way of doing agriculture but, equally importantly, a way of thinking about agriculture holistically, systemically, and ecologically. Along with respect for nature -- the soil, water, seeds, etc. -- there is equally respect for the people (especially women) engaged in agriculture, including their knowledge, experience, leadership and rights. It is a way of thinking about and doing agriculture that is fundamental to addressing pressing global problems like hunger and climate change.

TIAA-CREF Divests Social Choice Fund from Controversial Veolia Corporation

Grassroots International and its partners in the We Divest coalition join activists from around the country in congratulating TIAA-CREF for taking a step toward living up to its motto, “Investment for the Greater Good”.  “TIAA-CREF has made a move in the right direction by divesting its Social Choice Fund of Veolia stock given that Veolia's business model and practices have consistently put profit over people -- whether privatizing water resources around the world, or enabling Israeli occupation and segregation in the West Bank. This is a victory for all those concerned with human rights and justice,” said Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director of Grassroots International.  

Read the full press release below.

Dismantling the Free Trade Regime

In January 1994, the Zapatistas - autonomous indigenous communities who organized themselves in a system of liberated zones within Chiapas, Mexico – emerged out of the jungles with a clear and unified voice in opposition to the system of neoliberalism being imposed upon their lives through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  A trade deal between Canada, the US, and Mexico, NAFTA instituted a set of regulations that made it easier for transnational corporations to make profits across borders, no matter what the costs or consequences to people and the environment.  As a result, thousands of workers in the US lost their jobs as companies moved their operations to Mexico where the costs of production were cheaper.