Posts Tagged ‘Farm Aid’

I’m dashing off to the Farm Aid Concert in Mansfield, where Equal Exchange is the official coffee sponsor, so I’ll have to be brief. But I wanted to thank everyone who responded to Nick’s posting, “Co-operatives: The Democracies of our Economy“, with all of those thoughtful comments. I just wanted to add one more voice to the point raised by Keith. Yesterday I attended a meeting of the National Family Farm Coalition. A number of small farmer organizations, progressive NGOs and researchers advocating for more fair trade and agriculture policies have come together to work on the current food crisis. October 16th is National Food Day and they have been preparing a Call to Action to launch on this day. (stay tuned for more on that). The meeting was held here in Boston to piggyback on the fact that many of the Coalition’s members and allies will be attending the Farm Aid concert today.

Among those present at yesterday’s meeting was a group of small farmers who belong to the Federation of Southern Co-operatives, one of Equal Exchange’s partners in our Domestic Fair Trade program. Several of them got up and expressed outrage at the $500 billion* bailout of financial institutions being proposed this weekend by the Bush administration. Where are the subsidies or any support for small farmers who are responsible for growing the food we eat?

We talked about the recent Farm Bill and how most of the subsidies and other support went to agri-business. I couldn’t help thinking about the wave of recent articles criticizing the Fair Trade system for offering a minimum price to small farmers as an affront to the “free market”. As John Lewis, a dedicated life-long civil rights activist who was present at the meeting stated: “Small farmers are always last. And they should be first to receive some of this support. But, instead the corporations are getting it, most of whom don’t even need it.”

* by now everyone knows the bailout went up to $700 billion….

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