Ruby Tumber, Intern
In the past few weeks we have seen rumblings of progress in the fight for a better food system. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, which helps in the training, mentoring and assisting new farmers and ranchers in farming endeavors, was introduced on April 22nd in an effort to foster the growth of a generation of farmers. Furthermore, Senator Barbara Boxer (D- CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Genetically Engineered Right-to-Know-Act, pushing for legislative action to label all GMO foods. The bill, which has received bipartisan support, will push for public disclosure on GMO foods, to better inform consumers on food choices.
These bills echo similar efforts witnessed throughout the country and the world. Currently 26 states are also pushing for GMO legislation, and the betterment of farmers and farm workers is reflected in the sentiments of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration of Modernization Act of 2013. This proposal will have a resounding effect on the cultivation and collection of American food, as nearly half of food workers in the United States are undocumented laborers. Documenting these workers will unequivocally change the food system, as legalization will be a step forward in food sovereignty.
State’s are individually working to protect their food rights as well. Just a few weeks ago, an “ag-gag” bill in Indiana, aimed at criminalizing whistleblowers who exposed animal abuse, unhealthy working conditions, and other potential occupational hazards, was shot down by the state senate. On the global front, we have recently witnessed Europe’s recent ban on bee-killing pesticides, and just this week, Indian banana farmers launched a campaign (against the GMO bananas, decrying their threat on local biodiversity).
So what does legalization of a farmer’s status have to with whistleblowing in Indiana, or the status of European honey bees to banana farms in India? All of these cases exemplify the coming changes to our food system, and the growing cognizance in the American and global psyche for a sustainable means to food production. Through these bills, we are seeing an actualization of the growing sentiment amongst Americans: that food is not a commodity, but a way of life.
At CFJC, our tagline of Food for People, Not for Profit isn’t simply a banner on our homepage, but it a message we live by. We understand the connections throughout the agricultural system. We also understand that for every landmark legislation, our system is being assaulted by opposing forces. It seems for every step forward, we take a step back. The connections that we see and value, between farmhands and beehives, between banana growers and GMO labels, are being eradicated by the interests of the corporate elite. Rather than support a world of interconnectedness, there are those who try to disseminate the chains of the food supply for their own advantage, whether through “Ag-gag” bills that stifle us from knowing about the living conditions of livestock we consume, or through damaging cuts on programs, such as WIC, that serve some of the most disadvantaged communities.
It is essential to keep these connections thriving, and by giving to CFJC’s advocacy campaign, we can help push for legislation that reflect the interests of the people, not just the corporate masses. We have seen so many positive advances in food sovereignty this past month, and it is essential to keep the momentum going.
Currently, we are a nation of 47 million Americans that benefit from SNAP, where 3 out of 5 children face hunger on a daily basis, and more and more programs being sacrificed in the name of budget management. Despite the recent steps forward, there is still a lot at stake. By giving to CFJC, you are not just ensuring the preservation between the connections of the food system, but your place in it.