Bob St Peter and Family Alongside Palermos Picketers by Bob St Peter
Bob St Peter with Family and Immigrant Workers
The Way of Nature is the Essence of all things. Nature is Wisdom (or Intelligence) and Wisdom is Process. Ancients knew this. As Taoist philosopher, Chuangtse states:
There is an original Nature in things. Things in their original Nature are curved without the help of arcs, straight without lines, round without compasses, and rectangular without squares, they are joined together without glue, and held together without cords. In this manner, all things grow with abundant life, without knowing how they do so. They all have a place in the scheme of things, without knowing how they come to have their proper place. From time immoral, this has been so, and it may not be tampered with....people who abnormally develop humanity, exalt character and suppress Nature in order to gain reputation, make the world noisy with their discussions and cause it to follow impractical doctrines. (The Wisdom of Laotse, p 58)
If any statement reveals the origins of the problems of our current era--environmental devastation, poverty, unhealthy diets and lifestyles--this one does. Nature has worked quite well for several billion years, if not throughout eternity, without human intervention. Our thinking of ourselves as "kings" of Nature lies at the root of our deep trouble with global warming and civil unrest.
One primary example of our making a mess of things, by placing our domination oriented noses in Nature's process, is in our farming practices. These practices include monoculture cropping (the planting of acres of the same crop, or raising one kind of animal) and extensive use of pesticides and genetic engineering.
By these techniques and tools, we have practically destroyed many ecosystems as well as the economic well-being and working conditions of farmworkers and family farmers. Once humans take on the false belief that we are lords over Nature, free to manipulate and mutilate it in any way we choose, it easily becomes second nature to lord it over those who are closely tied to Nature's processes--in this case the farmers and farmworkers.
Yet, there are groups that are fighting back. Resistance to being destroyed is on the rise.
One such corrective action was taken recently by Family Farm Defenders through their launching a campaign against "Land O' Lakes". The farmers demanded that the company provide a living wage for their milk, stop pushing GMO alfalfa on farmers, and stop manipulating prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The reason the farmers targeted "Land O' Lakes" was to get the public focused on one high profile company in order to transform the entire industry. In addition, the organizers hoped to bring grassroots farmworker justice movements together with broader family farm and food movements. They understood that these seemingly disparate struggles are intimately linked.
Some of the other goals of the campaign include:
Increase dignity and trust in work
Show linkage of family farms to farm worker justice movements
Show linkage of the struggle of farm workers and those of family farms
Increase dignity and justice in farm work
Generate enough income for farmers and farmworkers to send their children to school
One of the primary challenges for dairy farmers in the current business arrangement is that they do not make enough enough money for their product. Indeed, in 2009, the average Wisconsin dairy farm lost approximately $100 per cow each month -- which amounts to 4 million dollars per day for the state's dairy industry. This led to some farmers cashing out their equity and savings just to buy cattle feed and to pay utility bills.
Bob St Peter, President of Food For Maine's Future, sees the real tragedy of this situation as being the fact that farmers are not encouraging other family members to maintain family farms due to the hard lifestyle with little compensation. This combination is destroying an ancient and honorable way of life.