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Peasants’ Rights Declaration presented before the UN General Assembly

Press Release

PRightsNow PosterNew York – October 26, 2018 – The “UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas” was presented in the UN headquarters to the Third Committee of the General Assembly on 25th October. This comes on the back of a nearly two decade long process of consultations and negotiations led by millions of peasants from La Vía Campesina, along with pastoralists, artisanal fisher folk, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples’ organizations, with the support of CETIM and FIAN International. The Declaration, if accepted can ensure that the rights of rural populations are better recognized and protected by the international community.

As it stands, peasants suffer from hunger and poverty at a disproportionate level**. It is estimated that out of 821 million people suffering hunger in the world (2018 UN figure), 80% live in rural areas. These people are particularly vulnerable and discriminated, they suffer forced expulsions and lack access to essential resources: land, seeds, loans, education, justice and basic services. They have unequal access and control over land, genetic resources and other natural resources; suffer from restricted access to markets and means of production to ensure a decent livelihood and are constantly imposed agricultural policies skewed in favour of elite farmers and of industrial agriculture. Yet, on average, small food producers contribute 70% of the world’s food, with this figure rising to more than 80% in so-called developing countries. Small scale food producers also play a decisive role in the fight against climate change and biodiversity conservation.

“There is no free and healthy citizen without free peasants: our freedoms and rights are prerequisites of the right to food, social justice and democracy for all mankind. This Declaration will provide a universal Human Rights frame to all the efforts and initiatives we peasants, all around the globe, take to feed our communities in locally adapted and sustainable ways, displaying great resilience, inventiveness and perseverance. For us, it is a vital source of legitimacy as it recognizes, in a single and coherent manner our existence, our specificities, our values but also our role to achieve food sovereignty, foster rural development, and sustain human life on Earth. We call for the widest support to the Declaration as it both gathers and globalizes the basic protections vital to our continuation and our development in such as changing world. Vincent Delobel, an organic goat herder from Belgium and also a member of La Via Campesina

A vast majority of the citizens support the Declaration. The European Economic and Social Committee has shown its support, and the European Parliament voted a resolution asking EU states to back the project. On 2nd October in France, the National Advisory Committee on Human Rights urged the French government, in an advisory opinion, to back the text. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has also expressed its support to the Declaration and so has the former rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter as well as his successor, Hilal Elver.

This past 28 September at Palais des Nations, home of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, 33 member states voted in favour and 3 voted against (Australia, Hungary and the United Kingdom) the adoption of the Declaration, while 11 of them abstained.

For the sake of consistency with the Paris Agreements on climate, the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (in particular Goal 2 to eradicate hunger) , the UN Decade of family farming and the commitments announced by the European diplomacy to build a fairer and more sustainable world, our governments should have the courage to take the right decision and to vote clearly and unanimously in favor of the Declaration.

Let’s recall that even if declarations are not binding, the existence of such an instrument is a clear and symbolic recognition of the fundamental role of small scale food producers worldwide who work hard to make a living and feed people, and hearten rural communities. The world needs this Declaration to foster sustainable food systems all over the planet and to make the world safer.

Contact:

English:

Henry Saragih: +62 811 655 668, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Elizabeth Mpofu: +263 77 244 3716 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ramona Duminicioiu: +40 746 337 022, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Spanish:

Diego Monton: +54 9 261 561 5062, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

French:

Ndiakhate Fall: +221 77 550 89 07, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes to the editors:

* The “UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas” will be presented at the UN General Assembly. Following a last intergovernmental working group in April 2018 and a broadly affirmative vote in the Human Rights Council on September 28th, the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Bolivian Mission in Geneva, M. Ruddy Jose Flores Monterrey, presented the resolution in favour of this new instrument aimed to bring together, specify and expose the rights of peasants and other agricultural workers, women and men.

** Final study of the UN Human Rights Advisory Council, 2012

For more information

www.viacampesina.org

 

Honoring Tirso in his Retirement

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After 35 years of dedicated service and commitment to the rights and dignity of farmworkers and to communities of farmworkers and immigrants in Florida and around the country, Farmworker Association of Florida co-founder and General Coordinator, Tirso Moreno, is stepping down from his leadership position for a much-deserved rest and for more time with his family. His shoes will be impossible to fill, as he has been instrumental to the farmworker movement in Florida, from the days of his work as a farmworker himself in the orange groves of Central Florida, to organizing his fellow citrus harvesters with the United Farm Workers during their campaign in Florida in the early 1980s. Tirso has created a legacy of building power among farmworkers across the state to assert their dignity, gain power in their communities, and to fight for workplace and immigrant rights for themselves and all campesinos.

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For more than three decades, Tirso has shown relentless strength and resilience, working day and night, often traveling with little rest, to build networks and collaborations to unify farmworkers to demand justice and to overcome any attempts at fear and intimidation to silence them. The accomplishments he has achieved are too numerous to mention, but his most significant achievement has been drawing from his personal experience as a former farmworker himself to give voice to the otherwise voiceless and to raise those voices to the highest levels for their own self-determination.

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Thousands of people’s lives have been changed; communities have become empowered; struggles for better working conditions have been won; and statewide, national and international relationships and collaborations have been forged, ensuring a strong platform for the struggle for justice going forward.

It is with tremendous gratitude for the work he has done and the organization he has built that we honor his work and history, as we wish for him a relaxing, yet fruitful and productive retirement.  In recognition of his work and his contributions to the farmworker struggle, we will be featuring one major accomplishment of the organization once a month over the next several months. Stay tuned and learn more about this legacy.

Tirso will continue to be involved in work networks and allies around the country as he continues his undying commitment to social and environmental justice for farmworkers everywhere.

FWAF Statement on Proposed Rule Targeting Low-Income Immigrants in the U.S.

FWA F Logo

On September 24 the Trump Administration issued its proposal to expand the definition of “public charge” for immigrants, such that it would in effect penalize those who receive SNAP, Medicaid and housing assistance during their process of meeting permanent residence and citizenship requirements. This rule change would also make it more difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants earning 125% of the poverty level to enter the country or to adjust their immigration status.  This does not apply to undocumented immigrants as they do not qualify for any of these benefits.   

The Farmworker Association of Florida roundly condemns this newest assault on the rights and dignity of the immigrant population in the U.S. that, if passed, would deny visas, permanent resident status, and even eventual U.S. citizenship to low-wage immigrant workers.    Farmworkers’ wages are among the lowest of any occupation and their poverty rates are substantially higher than the national average. This proposal has a direct and cruel impact on their lives - the families and the communities with whom our staff interact on a daily basis. Instead of accessing programs that they and their families are already eligible for, this rule change would force farmworkers to make impossible choices about their health and well-being and would drive them further into the margins of the economy.

This kind of attack on immigrants and immigration are not just hurting the immigrant population.  It is hurting all of us, and  it is hurting us as a country.  Together with our allies and partners, the Farmworker Association of Florida will continue to fight unceasingly for the rights and dignity of immigrants and all people, and for a more just, humane, compassionate and unified country.

A public comment period will open up soon in which the public will have 60 days to submit their thoughts and comments to the federal government.  We encourage everyone to get involved.  Once the notice has been published, we will reach out to all our supporters with sample comments and with the link where you can submit them.  We need everyone on board.  Your voice is more important now than ever before! We are all part of the Solution!

RISE FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE!

Climate, Jobs and Justice – Gathering in San Francisco

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With a call to Rise for Climate Justice!, the Farmworker Association of Florida is participating in one of the largest climate mobilizations on the West Coast, bringing together many organizations and thousands of people to demand sustainable solutions to climate change and for good jobs and resilience planning for vulnerable communities. FWAF is presenting about farmworkers, agroecology, resistance actions and justice for our communities at the Sol2Sol Summit in San Francisco.

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Sol2Sol Summit is a group of alliances that has come together to build community-based solutions. Sol2Sol is short for Solidarity to Solutions in which the four alliances - Climate Justice Alliance (of which FWAF is a member), Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right to the City - have come together to create an alliance of alliances. The event creates a space where communities of different organizations can learn from one another and participate in solidarity actions. With the motto #ItTakesRoots, the alliances participated in the march on Saturday to protest the Global Action Climate Summit organized by California Governor Jerry Brown. Rather than offer solutions, this summit offers the option of creating a system of carbon offsets to allow fossil fuel industries the option of calling themselves "green." This march set off from Embarcadero and Market Streets in San Francisco and ended at the city's civic center where action continued in the form of performances and activist art.

On Sunday, September 9th, the event moved to Berkeley to the site of an ancient Oholone People's shell mound. Although the shell mound is no longer there, the site remains sacred ground for the Ohlone people. The Ohlone welcomed us into their occupied territory, as their elders also welcomed members from other indigenous people from Amazonia and the Marhsall Islands. These groups of Indigenous Peoples exchanged gifts, songs, and prayers and calls for action for respect and in defense of Mother Earth.

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Later, the delegates went on different tours that highlighted the extractive and exploitative nature of our current economic system. One of these tours included the community of Richmond in the North Bay area, where refineries have polluted the air and water so bad that salt water fish living in the Bay water are practically inedible and where an elementary school is located within a couple hundred yards from that refinery. The community of Richmond is fighting back through the North Richmond Farm, where chemical free produce is grown as an affordable option for a community that has little access to chemical- and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. This space is allowing Black and Brown communities to work together to help their communities reach food sovereignty. Delegates were able to pitch in and help with some improvements at the farm.

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Monday, September 10, was another day of action as Sol2Sol in solidarity with Idle No More protested in front of the Parc 55 Hotel in downtown San Francisco and demanded that the indigenous delegation be allowed to sit at the table where the industry-led GACS was holding its meeting. Although the delegation was allowed in, not all of its members were. The week of action continues.

Climate Change and Lake Apopka Farmworkers – what do they have in common?

The beautiful and magnificently, artistically painted bus rolled into our Apopka parking lot on Sunday, August 26th on a sunny Florida summer day. Inside the bus was a team of experts, advocates and reporters from Climate Nexus, Nexus Media and Think Progress on the Freedom to Breathe Tour to highlight the dangers to and impacts of climate change and rising temperatures on vulnerable populations, including farmworkers, in the South. And, Sunday was a perfect day for the crew to experience some of that heat first hand.

 

Freedom to breath

 

Embarking on a Lake Apopka Toxic Tour that included visiting the former Lake Apopka farm lands; Magnolia Park where you could see the lake itself covered in algae, making the water opaque; and returning to the Farmworker Association office, the team learned of the harsh realities farmworkers face every day – past and present – in order to provide food for the rest of the nation. In addition to pesticide exposure, farmworkers increasingly today battle high temperatures, increasing annually due to climate change, and humidity that make heat stress and heat stroke a serious health concern related to short and long-term health consequences.

 

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Read Nexus Media Article: Extreme Heat is Killing Farm Workers. The Government Doesn't have a Plan to Protect them.

 

Standing in the blazing sun on the old Duda Farms property, at an entrance to what is now the North Shore Restoration Area hiking trail, each team member felt the intense heat as they learned the history of the Lake Apopka farmworkers and imagined what conditions were like when the farms were in operation. Unlike the farmworkers, however, everyone was able to then leave the hot environment and re-board the cool, air conditioned, comfortable bus, as they pulled away from the farms to continue the rest of the tour.

The last stop on the tour was the most important. Former Lake Apopka farmworker and community leader, Linda Lee, met the team at her home, where everyone sat outside in the shade to try to stay cool, while Linda recounted her memories of working on the farms and the harsh working conditions she endured.  Speaking from the heart and recounting her stories and her experiences put a face to the facts.  Reading statistics and scientific studies is one thing, hearing the voices of the people – well, that is the true story, and one that everyone needs to hear.  For the crew, it was the most memorable part of their visit to Central Florida’s farmworker community, as they continued their travels around the state, crying the clarion call of climate change, rising temperatures, and the risk to human health of heat exposure.

 

read think progress

Read Think Progress Article: Facing Rising temperatures
and Pollution, farmworkers are being left behind by Florida lawmakers.

 

The invisible ones

If you are connected with a community organization or a school group and are interested in doing a toxic tour please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Court slams EPA failure to protect children and farmworkers from toxic pesticide

 

EPA ordered to ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days 

SEATTLE, WA—EPA must ban a widely used organophosphate pesticide linked to brain damage in children, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. The appellate court ordered EPA to finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos based on undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health, and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers.
 
“The Court ended EPA's shameful actions that have exposed children and farmworkers to this poison for decades,” said Earthjustice attorney Marisa Ordonia. “Finally, our fields, fruits, and vegetables will be chlorpyrifos free.”
 
Chlorpyrifos is a dangerous nerve agent pesticide that can damage the developing brains of children.  Prenatal and early life exposure to chlorpyrifos is linked to lower birth weight and neurodevelopmental harms, including reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, and delayed motor development. It is also acutely toxic to farmworkers – routinely sickening workers and sending them to the hospital.
 
Chlorpyirifos (pronounced: klawr-pir-uh-fos), was first developed by the Nazis for chemical warfare but later repurposed for agriculture. It is widely used on apples, oranges, broccoli, and dozens of other crops. It’s been banned from home use for about two decades, as it is too toxic to children.
 
The court ruling details EPA’s long, illegal delay in acting to ban chlorpyrifos, even after the science clearly showed the harm and risks to children’s health.  The court explained that enough was enough: "If Congress's statutory mandates are to mean anything, the time has come to put a stop to this patent evasion."
 
The court ruling comes more than a year after former EPA boss Scott Pruitt reversed EPA’s own proposal to ban this pesticide. That decision came weeks after Pruitt met with the head of Dow Chemical, which is the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, selling it under the name of Lorsban. Pruitt then falsely claimed the science is “unresolved” and decided EPA would study the issue until 2022.
 
“We are elated with the court’s decision as it ends EPA’s irresponsible actions,” said Sindy Benavides, chief executive officer at the League of United Latin American Citizens. “For years corporations like Dow were able to hijack our government to put profit before people. But today the court sided with reason. Children and farmworkers have the right to live and work without risk of poisonings.      
"We applaud the court ruling. Chlorpyrifos affects everyone who comes in contact with this toxic chemical; allowing the use of this toxic chemical is not only irresponsible, it is a crime," said Hector Sanchez Barba, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement executive director. "Our agricultural fields should be a source of life, not sickness and we will continue pushing for a safe environment for our farm workers all over the nation."  
“This court ruling is an enormous step in the right direction. The scientific evidence is clear. Chlorpyrifos is toxic to farmworkers and is linked to neurodevelopmental problems in children,” said Dr. Elena Rios, president of the National Hispanic Medical Association. “We must have a chlorpyrifos ban.”
“This decision confirms what EPA and scientists have said for years. Chlorpyrifos must be off our fruits and vegetables for the sake of our children and farmworkers,” said Ramon Ramirez, president of PCUN. “We look forward to see a ban in place soon.”
"We applaud this decision by the 9th Circuit Court that validates the 2016 rule by EPA to ban all food uses of this neurotoxic pesticide,“ said Jeannie Economos from the Farmworker Association of Florida. Chlorpyrifo is a major threat to the health of farmworker children. Families living in rural communities can breathe easier, knowing that they will soon no longer have to be exposed to this harmful agricultural chemical, which should have been banned more than a decade ago.”
The EPA has put the women and men who harvest the food we eat every day in harm’s way too long by allowing the continued use of this dangerous neurotoxin,”  said Erik Nicholson, United Farm Workers of America national vice-president. “We commend the court for doing what EPA should have done years ago.  The people who feed us deserve a safe and healthy workplace.”
 
 “We are pleased with the court’s decision to move forward on this case,” said Virginia Ruiz, director of occupational and environmental health at Farmworker Justice. “Farmworkers and their families have needlessly suffered from exposure to chlorpyrifos for far too long.”
“We are gratified that the court recognized the urgency of protecting children from a pesticide that we know is linked to neurodevelopmental harms,” said Anne Katten, Pesticide and Work Safety Project director at the CRLA Foundation. “Chlorpyrifos has no place in our fruits and vegetables, let alone our agricultural fields.
"This court decision not only protects the health of children and farmworkers, it also affirms EPA's duty to actually protect public health," said Kristin Schafer, executive director at PAN. "Under this administration, apparently it takes judges to force our public agencies to stand up to corporate interests and do their jobs."
 
“This court decision is a great victory for the health of our farmworkers and our families,” said Mark Magaña, President & CEO of GreenLatinos. “Production of food for our tables should not put at risk the neurodevelopment of children nor poison farmworkers. EPA must now side with public health, not corporate profit, and ban chlorpyrifos for all uses.”
 
“Some things are too sacred to play politics with—and our kids top the list,” said Erik Olson, Senior Director of Health and Food at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The court has made it clear that children’s health must come before powerful polluters. This is a victory for parents everywhere who want to feed their kids fruits and veggies without fear it’s harming their brains or poisoning communities.”
 
A decade ago, Earthjustice and partners began legal action to protect children, farmworkers, and rural communities from chlorpyrifos. While families across the country are at risk of dangerous exposure through food, farmworkers and children living in rural Latino communities face disproportionate risk. Chlorpyrifos is unsafe for farmworkers even with the most protective safety gear. In addition, their children risk exposure at home, as chemicals can linger on work clothes. Moreover, anyone living downwind of farms risks exposure when the wind carries the toxic spray into schools and homes.

JOIN STAKEHOLDERS FROM ACROSS THE FLORIDA FOOD SYSTEM TO EXPLORE "FOOD JUSTICE"

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The Agricultural Justice Project and  the Farmworker Association of Florida are co-hosting a food justice discussion group July 27th in Gainesville.

This discussion group will create space for intentional, collaborative dialogue that unpacks and explores food justice in the Florida food system. This dialogue will foster information sharing and connection across diverse sectors and geographies.

Objectives:

● Information sharing - connecting people with ideas that are relevant to their work

● Growing social capital - developing relationships and beneficial connections

● Framing food justice as being inherent to a food systems analysis (food systems work and food justice are inherently cross-sector)

DACA and Campesinos’ Gardens Make a Difference in the Life of FWAF Staff Member

Ivan

Ivan Vazquez, Apopka Campesinos’ Garden coordinator for the Farmworker Association of Florida and a DACA recipient, talks about how both have changed his life in deep and meaningful ways. Ivan is a valued and beloved Farmworker Association of Florida staff member, whose skills, abilities and leadership have grown and continue to grow through the responsibilities he has taken on and through the role he plays within the organization.

Coordinating Apopka area community members and student and young adult volunteers in weekend work days in the FWAF’s community garden, to speaking out on behalf of himself and other DACA young people, Ivan has come to be seen as a humble, yet strong and dedicated, leader in his community. The recent stories of the separation of immigrant children from their families was a source of pain and outrage for Ivan, as it was for all of us at FWAF. Rather than remain silent in the face of these tragic separations, Ivan, along with other FWAF staff, marched with hundreds of others around the state for the rights and protections of our Brothers and Sisters coming across our southern border, and for all people, who deserve no less than universal, basic human rights and dignity, respect and freedom.

Listen to Ivan here, as he shares his story: https://www.thelovevote.org/campaign/ivan/

 

Dangerous Merger Approval Has Consequences for People and the Planet

 

FWAF Statement

The Farmworker Association of Florida affirms the right of farmworkers to live and work in healthy environments and communities and upholds our commitment to the transformation of our current agricultural system to one that is free of corporate control and that puts power back into the hands of communities and the people

 

This week, on May 30th, the U.S. Department of Justice gave the green light to the merger of two mega-giant, multinational corporations and opened the door for further consolidation of the agrochemical and seed markets around the globe. Referred to as “a marriage made in hell,” the merger of transnational corporations Bayer and Monsanto follows the recent merger of the Dow and Dupont chemical companies and the consolidation of Syngenta and ChemChina before that. What used to be known as the “Big Six” dominant agrochemical companies around the world has rapidly become the “Big Four,” thus, reducing competition in the marketplace and further limiting options for the worlds’ farmers. Bayer and Monsanto are producers of genetically modified cotton, soybean and canola seeds and they make the pesticides that accompany their GMO products. A poll of farmers around the U.S. found that 93.7 percent of farmers are concerned that the proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger will negatively impact independent farmers and farming communities (83.9 percent are very concerned/9.8 percent somewhat concerned).

This is the wrong direction for agriculture. While people around the world are increasingly asking questions about how their food is produced and wanting access to organically grown non-GMO options, this merger puts more power and influence in the hands of those controlling large-scale, monocrop, chemically dependent forms of agriculture. Our current conventional agricultural system is responsible for poisoning lands and water on five continents; causing illness, injury and death to people and communities, including farmworkers; triggering a decline in insects that are critical to pollination of food crops; and is responsible for land grabs from traditional and subsistence-farming communities worldwide. The myth is that more pesticides, fertilizers and genetically-modified crops are necessary to feed the growing population of the world. The reality is that this form of agriculture is causing devastating harm to the environment, wildlife and human health.

What is the solution? The Farmworker Association of Florida subscribes to the concept of Food Sovereignty – putting control of their food system in the hands of the people – which is the only ultimately sustainable solution. And, FWAF, as a member of La Via Campesina embraces the philosophy and practice of agroecology as both a return to and resurgence of ancestral techniques and knowledge of agricultural practice that is in harmony with the land, the water, the air and the people in dynamic interaction to produce food and herbs and medicinal plants that are healthy and regenerative for people and the planet.

We will continue to oppose and resist these mergers and other forms of corporate control over our lives and our food and will seek justice for people and the planet! Join us in this vitally important resistance.

Domestic Fair Trade Association Announces Release of Important New Report

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"A Report on Market and Supply Chain: Research on Domestic Fair Trade"

The Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA), in partnership with the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade (CFAT) at Colorado State University, is releasing a groundbreaking compilation of all the research that’s ever been done about domestic fair trade. A Report on Market and Supply Chain: Research on Domestic Fair Trade is coming out on May 11, 2018 for World Fair Trade Day!

This exciting report is the first of its kind and displays a comprehensive overview of research regarding consumer market patterns and awareness of domestic fair trade messaging. Information about consumer preferences from this newly compiled research brings valuable insight for farmworkers, farmers, food co-ops, and NGOs committed to ecological sustainability and social justice. 

The term “local” is reported to be a widely effective marketing phrase and there is evidence that domestic fair trade advocates can utilize this angle to uplift fairness for farmworkers and small/mid-size farmers. Products that offer human benefits, such as good working conditions, may be able to obtain a greater price premium and have a wider appeal than those focusing just on animal or environmental benefits.

Release of this report is in celebration of World Fair Trade Day, an inclusive worldwide festival of events hosted by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), celebrating Fair Trade’s contribution to sustainable development, economic empowerment of small producers, gender equality in workplaces, and responsible production practices.

Support Domestic Fair Trade! #BeDomesticFairTrade #FairTradeDay #Stand4Fairness #LiveFair @thedfta https://bit.ly/2rtfIY3

A Merger Affecting Millions and Billions

 

Farmworkers and Rural Communities on the Front Lines
FWAF Statement of Principles

It crept in quietly yesterday in the news, but the impact will be felt worldwide. And, it will be coming to your dinner plate soon.

The underreported decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to give the green light to the mega-merger of agrochemical giants Bayer and Monsanto will insidiously affect the lives of everyone on the planet. Does this sound like hyperbole? Consider this:

The obvious impacts of this merger are the consolidation of corporate control in fewer and fewer hands and the political power that gives to the corporations. And, there is growing international concern over companies putting profits above people. If you are concerned about increased GMO products on the grocery store shelves; pesticides in your food or causing bee colony collapse; chemical fertilizers poisoning our lakes, rivers and streams; small, family farms becoming on “endangered species;” and large conventional farms using mono-crop growing techniques that strip the nutrients from the soil and exacerbate the need for more chemical inputs, then you should be concerned about this merger.

But, there are less apparent potential impacts, as well. For farmworkers and those living in rural, agricultural communities, it is likely that your risk of exposure to pesticides and agrochemicals will increase, now that the corporations will have every incentive to develop and sell more and more pesticides to ensure farmers’ need for and dependence upon their products. If you live outside the United States, you can expect that these corporations will be looking to your country to “expand their markets”, and for countries with lax regulations, this could mean more chemical contamination and subsequent health consequences.

Two important impacts of this merger that will be more subtle are the increase in land grabs worldwide that we can expect to be on the horizon, as incentives for agricultural land to be swallowed up by big landholders beholden to – and/or owned by – these corporations increases. When land grabs of small land holders and subsistence farmers explodes, (as some may well argue it already has!) we can expect more migration and worldwide instability. Yet, no one is talking about this, though we know it to be true. It is a pattern that we have already seen – and felt - the consequences of.

The Farmworker Association of Florida, in collaboration with many other organizations around the country, worked diligently over the past year and a half to oppose the merger of giants Bayer and Monsanto. We collectively conducted a farmer survey (link here) that was delivered to US DoJ, as well as we have worked with ally organizations, states, and others to raise awareness and elicit public comment. Over one million people responded by commenting on the record that they stood in opposition to the merger. Now that that merger has been given the ill-conceived ‘green light’, FWAF wants to affirm its commitment of principles: of justice and safety for farmworkers everywhere; of support for small family farms and farmers in the U.S. and abroad; for land-based subsistence communities at the base of our society; and for food sovereignty and the theory and practice of agroecology. We also affirm our continued and concerted RESISTANCE to the corporate control of our lands, our air, our water, our communities, our cultures, our people, our system of agriculture, our lives and our planet. This merger of titans may have been approved by the highest levels of national government, but we, the Davids in our communities, are armed with our slingshots.

Viva La Lucha! Long live the Struggle!

We Need a Clean DREAM Act Now

FWAF Statement of Support for a Clean DREAM Act

The Farmworker Association of Florida supports and demands immediate passage of the DREAM Act (HR. 3440), which would allow a path to legal status and U.S. citizenship to millions of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) young people.  We also support extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for those recipients from Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua who are escaping harsh and dangerous conditions in their homelands.  Failure to pass a clean DREAM Act and extended TPS would result in the tearing apart of families in our communities and a loss to our country of the talent, creativity, ambition and dedication these immigrants bring to our communities.

We also reject attachment of the DREAM Act to any other bill going through the legislative process. We reject any proposals that would include in them and/or make passage dependent upon funding for a border wall, for detention centers, interior enforcement, and withholding of funds from local and state governments who protect the immigrant communities of our country in any way.

We further urge everyone to find their elected representatives and contact them to let them know you support the DREAM Act sponsored by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard and would like them to cosponsor the bill. Legislative representatives represent everyone in their district, regardless of status.

International Agroecology Exchange - Reflections from the US Delegation to South Africa

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2017 South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange

In October 2017, seven delegates from the US representing farmworker and African-American farmer organizations participated in the second South Africa-US Agroecology Exchange. For 10 days, the delegates visited the provinces of Gauteng, Limpopo, and the Western Cape to meet with small farmers, farmworkers, Agroecologists, and organizers in the Food Sovereignty movement. Together they learned and exchanged social, political, and technical aspects of Agroecology. The 2017 Agroecology Exchange was co-organized by US Food Sovereignty Alliancemembers WhyHunger (NY), Community Alliance for Global Justice (WA), and Farmworker Association of Florida, and South Africa-based Surplus Peoples Project. (Please read this press release for more background and see photos from the Exchange.)

Article Series

Starting in November and ending in January, members of the delegation will author a series of articles reflecting on different aspects of the Exchange. They will share how their trip to South Africa shaped new ideas, tactics, connections, and other means of continued engagement in the global Food Sovereignty movement, and how they're bringing these insights to their local organizing.

The series will also include perspectives on Agroecology in South Africa after learning from on-the-ground practitioners involved in organizations including Surplus Peoples Project, Mopani Farmers Association, African Centre for Biodiversity, Ithemba Farmers Association, the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union, Mawubuye, Trust for Community Organization and Education, Rural Legal Centre, and others.

Article Series Calendar

All articles will be published on the US Food Sovereignty Alliance website (www.usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org) on the following Wednesdays:

  • November 29: Dean Jackson, Hilltop Urban Gardens (Tacoma, WA)
  • December 6: Edgar Franks, Community to Community Development (Bellingham, WA)
  • December 13: Alsie Parks, Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (New Orleans, LA)
  • January 3: Shalon Jones & Ben Burkett, of Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (Mississippi)
  • January 10: Kathia Ramirez, The Farmworker Support Committee (New Jersey)
  • January 17: Justina Ramirez, Farmworker Association of Florida

Please help distribute these necessary analyses on the importance of Agroecological Farming!

Agroecology is an agricultural method based on the traditional knowledge of those who cultivate the land. Its practice is critical to addressing hunger, cooling the planet, and increasing communities' access to basic resources such as land, water and seeds. The increased corporatization of agriculture in Africa and the US sidelines small-and-medium sized family farmers in service to increased profits for agribusiness. The South Africa-US Agroecology Exchanges exists to directly confront this trend and to exchange experiences, tools, and strategies for resistance and to strengthen the Food Sovereignty movement.

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The Farmworker Association of Florida is a 34-year old, statewide, grassroots, non-profit, farmworker membership organization with five offices in the state of Florida and over 10,000 members that work in the vegetable, citrus, mushroom, sod, fern and ornamental plant industries in the state.

 

FWAF Joins Hurricane Relief Efforts for Puerto Rico

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In late September, Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 storm with 155-mph winds. It left 100% of the island without power causing an estimated $85 billion in damages across an island already in an 11-year recession.

"I knew it was bad but seeing the families arriving firsthand at the airport was difficult, many come here with no real connections in Florida, so they are homeless and scared with what's to come, they came here out of desperation because they were promised help but there are so many families that the help, especially with housing is very slim" says FWAF AmeriCorps volunteer who assisted with families arriving at Orlando International airport disaster relief welcome center.

FWAF staff members, allies, and community members have been similarly affected, with friends, family, and even homes impacted by the storm on their island homeland. 

In Puerto Rico, Nearly 5,000 people remain homeless in shelters after the storm, with many using rainwater to shower if they are fortunate enough to have access to uncontaminated water sources. The EPA received reports of people attempting to access water out of desperate need at toxic Superfund sites located in Caguas, San German and Dorado. The death toll is at odds as the confirmed number rose to 45 people. Conflicting numbers arise as reports come out of at least 450 reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and at least 69 people are reported still missing. Members of Congress request immediate official audits of hurricane related deaths.

It’s been four weeks since the initial chaos, and the Isla De Encanto is slowly attempting to breathe from the destruction of this impactful natural force. Currently about 17% of the electrical grid is back on, providing some relief to families who have not yet been able to communicate with their family members.

Puerto Rico's agriculture has been severely damaged, affecting not only the livelihood of the farmworkers and farmers but also the food sources available to export and the Caribbean island itself," Hurricane Maria wiped out about 80 percent of the crop value in Puerto Rico — making it one of the costliest storms to hit the island’s agriculture industry, said Carlos Flores Ortega, Puerto Rico’s secretary of the Department of Agriculture."

With not much hope left to cling onto in the island, thousands of Puerto Rican Families have been pouring into the mainland joining the 1 million Puerto Rican families already in Florida, 80% of flights leaving P.R are arriving in Florida.

The FWAF has joined relief efforts for Puerto Rico

Donations can be brought to the FWAF main office in Apopka. Please refer to the donations request list here and on our Facebook page.

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Hurricane Irma Impacts Farmworkers In Florida

Earthquake in Mexico and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico Affect FWAF Community Members

Hurricane Irma swept through Florida in early September, covering almost the entire state and leaving damage and destruction to various degrees throughout south, central and north Florida, including the Florida Keys.  Local, state and federal agencies and relief organizations have been working at top capacity ever since the hurricane made landfall in the state, and churches, aid and civic organizations, and individuals wanting to help have been collecting donations and volunteering for disaster relief and response efforts.  

The Farmworker Association of Florida staff have barely been able to come up for air, as we both receive and distribute donations and supplies; assist those impacted by the storm with accessing services; provide assistance and referrals; assess damage to families’ homes and belongings and their housing needs; and glean information daily about the long-term impact to the state’s agricultural production from the untimely onslaught of the storm.  Staff members are compiling information to be able to report on the specific impacts to those in their areas.  

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In Homestead, for example, tropical fruit plantations lost a season’s crop as avocados and other tree fruits lay on the ground, stripped from the trees by the hurricane force winds, and okra plants were ‘burned up’ by the storm, both of which will have longer term impacts on farmworkers’ jobs. 

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In Pierson, the “Fern Capital of the World,” and an area of majority Hispanic farmworkers who work and make their living in the fern industry, a significant percentage of the fern crop was decimated at what would be peak season going into the holiday harvest time. (Volusia County news article

In Immokalee, an estimated over 50 trailers, housing mostly local farmworkers, were seriously damaged or destroyed, leaving families destitute and homeless, some with young children to care for and with uncertainty for their future. (Naples News Article

The Fellsmere community was not able to drink local tap water for close to two weeks, and in Apopka, some homes were without power for almost two weeks, meaning loss of food due to no refrigeration and forcing community members to spend money to eat out and to buy gas to get supplies.  

But, as power and water are restored and emergency supplies are distributed, the real issues will be down the road, over the next few months as families struggle to get back on their feet.  Between 70-90% of the state’s citrus crop was destroyed, meaning the loss of jobs for hundreds of farmworkers. (Citrus Industry article).   Damage to nurseries, greenhouses, ferneries, and even some vegetable crops, leaves the future of jobs for farmworkers for the coming season – and even future years – in question.  

For those wanting to know how they can best help FWAF help farmworkers in Florida, the organization has set up a special fund for donations to help farmworkers pay rent and utility bills in the aftermath of the storm and the hard hit taken by Florida agriculture.  The funds will go to the areas and families with the most need, and it will be on-going until things can stabilize for farmworkers in the state.  Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so by logging on to PayPal or by sending a check to the Farmworker Association of Florida, 1264 Apopka Blvd., Apopka, FL 32703 and designated for Hurricane Irma Relief Fund.  

Throughout all our efforts in Florida, we are also grieving for the loss of life and security in our sister countries of Mexico and Puerto Rico.  As much as we welcome contributions to help farmworkers in Florida, for those who are able to, we also support and encourage donations to help relief efforts to help those hardest hit by these devastating disasters.

In conclusion, we celebrate the resiliency of the human spirit, even as we forge ahead in strength, and with humanity and solidarity.

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