Worried about New Farming
By Lynn Miller (Originally copyrighted in the Fall 2009 Small Farmer’s Journal)
Industrial agriculture is fighting for its scientific, political and economic life. The public drum beat for a new farming is growing louder every day. The citizenry want safe, healthy food – they want the security and the civilizing regional diversities which come of a vibrant local food scene – they want the independent family farms to succeed and thrive – they want to see small rural communities come alive again for all the right reasons.
The vertically-integrated corporate behemoths, wholly separate from actual farmers and farming, are heading off a steep cliff of their own design, they are living the curse of rapidly decreasing returns on investment as vital natural resources are depleted and/or altered by the boardroom’s complete disregard for natural balance and fertility – their disregard for bio-diversity and the true craft of farming.
Meanwhile in nearly every nook and cranny of this land people are getting together local community efforts to answer their increasing need for real local food security and health; farm coops, “foodsheds,” farm to consumer alliances, new farm beginnings programs, and so much more.
The executive and legislative branches of our government are justifiably confused. Who now exactly is the constituency? The general clamoring voting food-eating public – or the money slinging black-mailing corporate board members? The answer would seem to be obvious but alas…
Now we are beginning to see the hard evidence of a campaign to “dis-allow” the public in general and small farms in particular. In other words we farmers and consumers are being stripped of our determinate rights, If the federal-corporate axis have their way, we won’t get to have a say in what sort of farming and food we will have in the near future.
Over the last half-dozen years the USDA and its corporate controllers have worked out a program to demand through regulation, the “professionalization” of agriculture. “No more amateurs” they cry. We see it in the circumlocutions of the euphemistically labelled “Food Safety Bills” and we hear about it today as the secretary of agriculture announces an end-run to implement Animal ID as imbedded within food safety regs.
They are worried and with good reason. The cause of new farming is winning at the grass-roots level across all sociological boundaries. The federal/corporate axis wants to make us, in the new farming, fight their fight. We mustn’t. We must continue our constructive efforts everywhere, we must take our solutions to them. Make them “show cause.” This country must reclaim the capacity to feed itself – not in some abstracted third-removed corporate trade off but ACTUALLY feed itself. It is not only a matter of national security, it is a moral and cultural imperative that affects the survival of the planet and the dignity of mankind. At every opportunity we need to request from our governments and the large corporations that they pass a litmus test, Do they or do they not support the concept of U.S. self-reliance in food? Do they or do they not support the SFJ demand for a whole New Homestead act granting each and every veteran either a college education or a suitable piece of land to farm? Do they or do they not support the goal of zero hunger in this country and around the world? Do they or do they not support the furtherance of farming systems which enhance the biological world? Yes or no? Time to go on record. And know that when you do go on record that record will be called upon when we decide where to shop, who to vote for, what to watch, who to dial in. It’s no longer a contest. The new farming has won out. But it is no time to lower our guard, it’s no time to slow our efforts, no time to trade off any of our principles. They are worried and that is clear evidence of something that has already happened. Let us not be swayed or hoodwinked into fighting their fight. LRM