My guest today is John Peck, Executive Director of Family Farm Defenders. Welcome to OpEdNews, John. Many farmers in Wisconsin (and beyond) are supporting union workers in the standoff in Madison. Is that an unusual and unexpected coalition, John?
protest outside Chicago Board of Trade,
It is this type of worker and farmer solidarity that has created such powerful grassroots political movements across the Midwest throughout U.S. history from the Populist struggle against the robber barons of the late 19th century through the joint organizing drives across fields, forests, and factories of the 1930s, right up through present times with the emergence of strong network of farmer co-ops and labor unions. When the state fights back - such as calling out the National Guard to bust strikes by farmers and workers (which has happened several times in WI history already) these groups also stand together in solidarity.
Thanks to this legacy, in Minnesota, it is still called the Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) and here in Wisconsin, family farmer groups and labor unions have worked together to oppose free trade deals, union busting up the food chain (including the bitter strike at Tyson's pepperoni plant in Jefferson a few years back now) and now attacks on Badger Care and other forms of medical assistance being proposed by Gov. Walker (for many working poor and family farmers this is their ONLY form of health coverage if they have any at all).
So, no, they are not strange bedfellows. An injury to one is an injury to all.
Solidarity Cows at Madison rally
That makes sense. Tell us about Family Farm Defenders. What is it and what do you do?
Sorry to be so slow responding to your email questions. As you may know, we are in the midst of a grassroots uprising here and planning for our farmer labor tractorcade this coming Saturday [March 12] is taking up lots of my time.
At any rate, you can find out much more about the history of FFD on our website and archived elsewhere on the Internet. The short version is that we were formed by Midwest dairy farmers in the mid 1990s who were fighting the USDA' s mandatory dairy checkoff program and Monsanto's introduction of rBGH. Since then we have expanded greatly with many other types of farmer members, as well as consumer allies, farm workers, communities of faith, environmentalists, and global justice activists. We have adopted Via Campesina's seven principles of Food Sovereignty as our broader organizing framework. As a grassroots organization, we mostly work to educate and empower people to reclaim control over their food/farm system.
Signs: Cultivate Democracy, Grow Solidarity, WI Farmers Part of the Growing Opposition, Can We Peas Have a Voice?
When you've had a chance to catch your breath, I'd like to resume our interview and hope that you do too.
Yes, we had 53 tractors total come for the tractorcade and they were met by a crowd of over 100,000 people. Quite a historic event - much more about it is now posted on our webpage.
At any rate, I'm a little less "distracted" now and able to continue our interview, but you'll have to remind me just where we left off...
Pull Together: Support Working Families
Well, grassroots opposition to Gov. Walker's proposals has been steadily growing as more and more folks realize what is at stake. First it was being portrayed as just an attack on public sector workers, but then when his budget came out people saw the true nature of his ideological agenda to downsize, privatize, and outsource all sorts of other essential services - like public schools, food stamps, low income healthcare coverage (both Badgercare and Medicare/Medicaid) - even selling off state owned power plants to the Koch Brothers without competitive bidding!
Hey Republicans! The Kochs supply you
We know now who our real friends are in this struggle for rural justice.
All photos from March 12th Madison Rally by Gabrielle Fine
See more here!
Family Farm Defenders, P.O. Box 1772, Madison, WI 53701
It is our belief that healthy safe accessible food is a basic human right and that all communities should be able to control their own food system. To this end, FFD supports sustainable agriculture, farm worker rights, animal welfare, consumer safety, fair trade, and food sovereignty.
Family Farm Defenders is a national grassroots organization with members in all 50 states.
local food and fair trade