On March 15th, the Coalition of Immocalee Farm Workers concluded their Freedom Fast. However, their demands to stop sexual violence against women in the fields will not end. This boycott is against Wendy’s – the last of the large food chains to resist joining the Fair Food Program. The Fair Food Program is a partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retailers that ensures humane wages and working conditions.
Wendy’s has decided not to sign on and instead is going to Mexico for their tomatoes, where laws remain lax and conditions for the farm workers are often deplorable.
Such is the battle for economic and humane equity in farming.
Reading news from Family Farm Defenders, I was saddened by the statistic that the numbers of farmers committing suicide is on the rise. Couple that with the fact that in 2017, western Wisconsin had the highest numbers of farm bankruptcies in the nation and the stark realities of what farm life has become is apparent.
While massive amounts of money are poured into military budgets, political campaigns, and entertainment, our food security is being destroyed. Pipelines, fracking, transmission lines and oil spills are cutting through the heart of rural farms adding salt to wounds. Organic farmers now face increased rates for licensing, with little to no increase in revenue.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.” He recognized farming as national security. Apparently today’s government doesn’t agree, rather it seems hell bent on bringing back servitude.
Our farming communities are facing enormous challenges in every way. Even the famously promised broadband access still eludes 61% of our people. I know. I’m one.
While popular TV shows herald more of the same old rugged individualism, pitting man against nature…it seems to me today’s heroes are the farmers and the rural communities trying desperately to maintain a good life. The way out is not in conquering nature, but in working with it and with one another.
This is a moment for cooperation to re-emerge.
So while Alaska calls itself the last frontier and people knock themselves out to prove they are survivors…we need look no further than the small sustainable farms here in the Driftless to see devotion to land and community, resilience to climate change, and the finest of the human spirit.
And please watch this video of the struggle to save clean water in Kewaunee County WI.