Good afternoon. I am the author of the the Community Food & Water and Farm Bill. I wrote it in response to a number of conversations about food and water which invariably ended with this statement: ‘Well, we won’t have the food economy we need until we have a new farm bill.”
This is the territory we will cover today. We will examine the current food economy. Then I will introduce the bill and its set of objectives. Finally, we will consider how communities might pursue the vision outlined in the bill.
Before we talk about the bill, we are going to take a detour to consider two stories that provide an important context. The first story is about an indigenous community which inhabits a region of southern Mexico. The second story is about water.
While we are shoveling the last of winter’s snow here in Minnesota, the Mixtec communities of Oaxaca in southern Mexico have just finished planting their fields. The Mixtec are an indigenous people whose ancestors are responsible for domesticating corn from a wild plant 10,000 years ago. From that first seed, they bred hundreds of varieties adapted to the local conditions and climate. Every season, families of this region work collaboratively to plant the seeds handed down from their ancestors. During the months of February and March they plant a seed called cajete. Using a special tool the seed is planted 3 feet deep in the ground. This variety of corn is known for its remarkable drought resistance.The plant will grow for 12 weeks without rain to a height of 14 ft. The Mixtec still cultivate and harvest by hand. They till their fields with plows drawn by animals. By our standards, they are poor. But for thousands of years they have maintained a wealth of diverse varieties of seed and grown food in a region known for its challenging climate. That seed diversity combined with ecological knowledge has been their insurance in the face of unpredictable rainfall and climate conditions. By caring for the earth and working in partnership with Nature, the Mixtec continue to be leaders in adapting to climate and growing abundant sources of food. I want to return to this community later in this presentation, but now we will consider a story that is closer to home. Our story of water.
Here Minnesota we have an abundance of water with a story for each lake and river. Today, we are going to look at the Chippewa River.
The Chippewa River is known also as Maya Waka Wapan. In Lakota this means remarkable river with steep places. It is located in western Minnesota in an area economically dependent on industrial farming. As you can see from the statistics noted here, this river system is extensive with a total stream network of 2000 miles. It empties into the Minnesota River which flows directly into the Mississippi.
She is also home for countless forms of life -including water fowl, amphibians, mammals, fish and soil, and microbes and she is a source of water for people.
However, since the introduction of industrial-scale farming, the life of the river has been transformed. In the 1990’s, she became the subject of a study called The Chippewa River Watershed Project. The substances named here have been monitored and collected for nearly two decades. All of them are the byproducts of industrial farming. Efforts have been made to reduce the amount of pesticide and fertilizer applied to crop land, but the 20 -year study reveals that these efforts have not reduced the levels of contamination.
The Chippewa River study reveals the impact of industrial farming for that river, but the results are similar for soil and water wherever the industry operates. As we follow the river downstream, the story continues. The Gulf of Mexico has been identified as one of the world’s largest ‘dead zones’. Decades of contaminants applied to crops upstream collect in the gulf. No life can be sustained in the gulf’s waters.
With all of these toxic substances in her waters, I think we need to ask some questions. For instance: Is she still a river? Can a contaminated ecosystem continue to offer a home? If not, then how did this happen?
How did a river system so full of promise and life become a repository for chemicals? The condition of the river was not inevitable. It is not the result of simple carelessness by a few thoughtless people. It is the byproduct of a publicly-subsidized food economy. I am going to ask you to hold onto that thought. We will come back to it. Right now, we will look at another vital part of our story of water.
We need to talk about aquifers. These are underground sources of water contained in permeable rocks. One of the world's largest is the Ogallala located in the Great Plains, it underlies an area of approximately 174,000 sq mi) in portions of eight states (South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas) This area also happens to host an industrial farming region growing millions of acres of corn and soy beans used to feed cattle and hogs who are confined in enormous feedlots. This industry is highly dependent on irrigation of crops from the aquifer’s water source.
Today, the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted at an annual volume equivalent to 18 Colorado Rivers. More than 90 percent of the water pumped is used to irrigate industrial farms. The Ogallala is now 60% depleted. . Read more: http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Oc-Po/Ogallala-Aquifer.html#ixzz4ahqm2si3
Aquifers can be replenished by rainfall. But rainfall cannot keep up with the the rate of extraction by industrial use. If this industry continues to extract water at the current rate, this source of water will vanish in 30 years. Farmers in the region are aware of the prediction. And they are worried. The entire region is economically dependent on extraction of the aquifer’s water. NOTES: Industrial-scale extraction of the aquifer began after World War II. Diesel-powered pumps replaced windmills, increasing output from a few gallons a minute to hundreds. Over the next 20 years the High Plains turned from brown to green. The number of irrigation wells in West Texas alone exploded from 1,166 in 1937 to more than 66,000 in 1971. By 1977 one of the poorest farming regions in the country had been transformed into one of the wealthiest, raising much of the nation’s agricultural exports and fattening 40 percent of its grain-fed beef.
80% of the world’s freshwater is used to irrigate crops grown on an industrial scale.
Contamination of water systems and depletion of water sources are the direct consequence of an industrial approach to agriculture. Soil conditions in regions of industrial farming are also contaminated. .
The depletion of the aquifer was not inevitable. It is not the result of simple carelessness. It is the byproduct of a publicly-subsidized food economy that depends on this practice. And it is legal. Under the current structure of law, destruction of ecosystems is legal. Our public dollars subsidize the destruction of water sources. It is one component of the industrial food chain. At this point, you may be thinking why are our public dollars invested in a food economy that contaminates water? What are the other costs of this economy? And what is the impact of the industrial food chain on a community like the Mixtec? We will be examining these questions to understand the dynamics of the food economy, the challenges we face and and consider how public investments might shape a food economy designed to depend on healthy ecosystems.
So our first step is to examine where we are now.
There are two food systems operating in the world today-the industrial food chain and the peasant food web. For the purposes of our discussion, the Mixtec community represents the nearly 2 billion small-scale producers of food web. Many are indigenous peoples. They include farmers, fisherfolk, and pastoralists. They live in every conceivable climate in rural and urban settings.
It is important to acknowledge that now and for several decades the Industrial Food Chain has controlled the policy, public investments and markets for the world’s food economy and for our food. So what do we mean by the industrial food chain?
The Chain begins with an assortment of inputs needed to create a food product and ends with the processed foods found on grocery store shelves and in restaurants. From the laboratory to the plate, these are the links in that chain. As you can see, the chain is long and complicated. Every segment is advanced by public subsides and policies outlined in the Farm Bill.
The Chain’s main crops are corn, soybeans, beet sugar, wheat, canola and palm oil. These are processed with other ingredients to create food products. 50% of the crops grown are used for livestock feed for animals kept in enormous feedlots. 9% of these crops are used to make biofuels and 23% is lost in transportation, storage, processing or wasted in households
Processed foods are the hallmark of the industrial food chain.They come at a price to our health and the health of our ecosystems. Disturbing photos of ocean beaches piled high with garbage are frequently posted on the internet. An estimated 8 million tons of plastic leaks into oceans-1/3 of which is discarded by the Chain. Nevertheless, since 2002, the chain has increased sales of processed foods by 92%.
Annual purchases of food produced in the Chain amount to $7.55 trillion. Included in that number is $1.26 trillion in overconsumption and $2.49 trillion in wasted food. Another $4.8 trillion is incurred by damages to ecosystems and social and health costs. For a staggering total of $12.37 trillion. p.37
For every dollar we pay to Chain retailers, society pays another $2 for health and ecosystem damage. The total bill for the Chain’s direct and indirect costs is 5 times the world’s military expenditure.
The Chain feeds 30% of the world’s people while using 75% of the world’s agricultural land. Annually, it destroys 75 billion tons of topsoil. Cuts down 7.5 million hectares of forest Accounts for 90% of agricultural use of fossil fuels and 80% of freshwater use. P.17
The Chain’s use of genetically-uniform crops and livestock combined with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides have decimated beneficial agricultural microbes and pollinators. These practices damage soil health and make animals vulnerable to disease. Mass production of crops and animals increases the use of antibiotics which in term contaminate soil and water.
In contrast to the industrial food chain, the Web of small- scale producers : Feeds 70% of the world’s people: Using less than 25% of agricultural lands Approximately 10% of agricultural use of fossil energy and 20% of water And it does all this while protecting biodiversity.
It is important to acknowledge that over the course of thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples discovered, protected or domesticated and bred and nurtured every food species we use. Their scientific research, knowledge, skills and foods remain the foundation for food and water security.
Indigenous Peoples: Generated every known method of preservation including: Drying, smoking, salting, pickling, fermenting, and freezing. *2 billion people in the Global South depend on artisanal preservation methods
Members of the Food Web contribute to the world’s food security by planting, saving and sharing over 2 million varieties of locally adapted seeds from 7000 plant species. They protect and interbreed thousands of wild plants at no cost. Many of the additional species cultivated by the Web are minor crops, but they provide food in times when others are not available. These minor crops often do not appear in any national food registries. .
In contrast to the Web’s enormous collection of seeds varieties, a single genetically modified seed costs $136 million to get it to market. The genetic uniformity of the Chain’s crops increase their vulnerability to disease and to the forces of climate.
The practices of the Chain contributes between 44-57% of greenhouse gas emissions. These are the numbers for: Deforestation 15-18% Industrial Agriculture 11-15% Transportation 5-6% Processing and Packaging 8-10% Freezing and Retail 2-4 % Waste 3-4%
Taken together these are the conclusions we can draw: Our public funds subsidize a food chain that is expensive, grows a handful of crops using the vast majority of the world’s natural resources while destroying ecosystems, creating food and water scarcity and making us vulnerable to the forces of climate. Despite the enormous cost to taxpayers, the Chain’s products are unaffordable. Records show that people who live in poverty in the US and around the world cannot afford to pay for grocery store foods. Given the cost and the practices, we may wonder how the industry is able to market products. The answer to that question is trade deals.
As with policy, trade agreements are written by the industry for the industry. Small-scale farming communities are not at the table. We must be clear. This is not a ‘free’ market economy. It is a created market for products subsidized by billions of public dollars.
It is quite simple: The industry would not exist as it does without the trade arrangements. The Chain dominates the markets here in the US, but its reach extends far beyond our borders-even to communities like the Mixtec who live in a remote area and have grown their own food for thousands of years. Here is how it works; The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented in1994. While it is more than 20 years old, it provides a clear picture of trade deals written for the industry. We know that NAFTA had immediate and devastating impact on small-scale growers in Mexico by providing a market for the millions of acres of corn grown in the US.The local growers could not compete with the prices of the subsidized US-grown corn. With no way to sell their corn, locals had to find other work to earn enough to care for their families. More than 2 million farmers-mostly from the poorest communities- left the land and their homes to find work. Many of them crossed the border into the US. Others looked for work in cities in Mexico.
Forced migration destabilized the communities further because it was the youngest members who left-the ones capable of making the dangerous journey across the border. But there are other significant impacts of NAFTA that we rarely if ever hear about. Every family in the Mixtec community has a heritage of seeds-all of them adapted to the local conditions. When trade deals force indigenous farmers off the land, we lose the science, skills, knowledge and foods they cultivate. We need communities with this capacity to thrive and continue to grow food.
NAFTA transformed Mexico’s economy. After 10,000 years as a leader in locally grown food, Mexico now imports 40% of their food from the US. It will not surprise you that Walmart is now the largest retailer. They received considerable help from the US State Department to locate their mammoth corporation in Mexico’s towns and cities. The transformation of Mexico’s economy did not make our neighbors to the south more food and water secure or climate ready. In fact the reverse is true.
We cannot talk about the impact of the industry without mentioning genetically modified corn. Mexico is on the front line in the battle against GMO (genetically modified corn). Planting of GMO Corn is currently prohibited because it threatens the genetic diversity of native varieties. Seeds sown in one field can cross into other fields by the wind or birds carrying them. Once contaminated by the genes from GMO seeds, the native seeds no longer carry the traits for which they have been bred in the natural environment. We must remember that the Mixtec may be poor in terms of money. Their wealth is measured in seeds. Contaminating their seeds robs them of their livelihood and inheritance.
Like their counterparts in Mexico, small -scale growers across the global south are the custodians of diverse varieties of local plants and seeds. But these communities are struggling to survive as well. Trade deals paired with investments by both public and private entities target these communities for economic development schemes.
The US State Department working with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund direct public dollars to fund the expansion of the industrial food chain in regions of South America, Africa and Asia. The deals they make force communities off the land leaving them with no home or way to care for their families. This kind of development has left thousands of people with no option but to migrate to find work.
Across the global south, communities are opposing the appropriation of land for industrial development and demanding that their governments protect their rights to live and earn a livelihood in their communities. They dispute the claim that we need the industry to feed the world. And they are right. Grassroots International GRAIN Via Campesina
The industry claims that we need to produce on a large scale if we want to feed the world. Evidence to the contrary reveals this claim to be false. Small scale, regenerative systems are far more productive in per acre yield and use less energy and land and water. Their practices capture carbon and protect biodiversity and seed diversity.
The trillions spent every year do not buy us food and water security in the United States. By the only measures that count, the industrial food chain is a failure. ( SEE list above) No one could argue with any credibility that subsidizing this economy is a wise use of public money. So what do we do?
There are three things that fuel this industry: Public money Public policy as defined in the Farm Bill and Trade arrangements Together these provide a powerful combination of tools to advance the success of the industrial food chain. It is winning combination for corporations. I suggest that we adopt this combination.
But flip the dollars. Replace the farm bill and create trading that respects the rights of people and Nature. This is precisely what the Community Food & Water and Farm Bill proposes.
So let’s look at the bill’s proposal.
First of all–the bill offers a vision that aligns our public investments with our needs to establish regenerative food systems as the bedrock for successful local economies. It invites communities to come together to shape a new story for food and water that connects urban and rural communities to a common purpose. In that new story, local economies are designed to depend on healthy ecosystems to produce food and every community has a plan to be climate ready.
It recognizes the leadership of indigenous and other small scale producers and provides the needed reforms to empower them..
Finally, this bill provides public investments for an effective economic infrastructure so that every community can meet their resiliency planning goals.
The bill proposes a number of clear objectives to transform the food system and set communities on a path for success. The first objective is restoration of ecosystems.
Let’s return to the Maya Wapan Waka River to illustrate the first objective.
In this region, farmers would be offered subsidies to adopt regenerative farming practices and revive native plants and perennial crops. With the elimination of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the river and soil would be restored to health and the landscape prepared to produce diverse sources of local foods. Downstream, the waters of the river basin would recover as well.
We also need to revive the biodiversity of landscapes. The Main Street Project in Northfield MN has created a successful model for regenerative agriculture that can be adapted to almost any climate. The system is scientifically designed to keep plants, animal manure, soil and water in balance to regenerate the ecosystem. They produce chickens and a range of vegetables and nuts and fruits native to the area. The farmers are making a living while continually renewing the health of the landscape and capturing carbon.
The second objective is to establish local regenerative food economies as the bedrock of every community.. The good news is that we know that there is significant untapped potential for this kind of local development. For example, a study commissioned to review the region of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin revealed that the area could generate nearly a billion dollars by creating a local food system. Those dollars remain in the community and create employment opportunities.
This diagram illustrates how the economy could be designed. At the center of the diagram is a Neighborhood Food Hub which operates like a public library for food –a resource available for people of all ages to participate. The Hub serves several functions including offering sources of prepared and fresh food from urban and rural farms and a culinary school for learning skills and preserving food by traditional methods. The hub also houses a research center to help communities generate and maintain vital local knowledge from the area and across the region. As communities adapt to climate, capturing knowledge of local ecosystems provides an essential tool for planning.
The benefits of relying on sources of local food are substantial. By preparing and preserving food locally, communities can replace plastic packaging with reusable containers and eliminate dependence on practices that create greenhouse gases and pollution. Locating food hubs in neighborhoods makes food accessible. I envision Neighborhood Food Hubs serving as gathering places- perhaps a cross between a public library and a pub. The challenges of climate and food and water security are significant, so having an economy organized to help communities live and work together as neighbors is essential.
That brings us to the third objective: communities and farmers connected by a common purpose and pursuing a shared vision. With climate readiness and food and water security as a common goal, urban and rural communities have a powerful incentive to work collaboratively. Every community will play a role and each must have the public funds needed to participate effectively.
I believe that climate change is our opportunity to set a new course together with every community operating as an engine for sustainable living. I think it is helpful to remember that adapting to climate is not a new concept. For as long as humans have lived on the planet, they have adapted to conditions wherever they lived. We face a similar challenge and must have an economy designed to manage it successfully.
Our picture would be incomplete if we did not talk about Community Rights and Rights of Nature. Under the current structure of law, it is legal to pollute lakes and rivers, the soil beneath our feet. Nature is treated as property. She has no rights. Natural systems sustain life, but they have no protection. Likewise, our inalienable right to life and well being can be preempted by state and federal laws granting corporations permission to use and abuse the land and water we rely on. So if a company identifies a location for a mining operation or an industrial hog farm, it simply has to complete a permitting process to gain access to that location. Local communities are not protected from this kind of ‘development’. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Communities have been fighting back by organizing and creating local ordinances designed to override the state and federal laws. These efforts have helped communities to identify what they value and establish legal protections for those values. FFI: Celdf.org. Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
In keeping with providing rights for communities, this bill recognizes rights of indigenous and small scale farmers to live and thrive in the places they call home and demands that all trade must be fair trade. Additionally, the bill endorses a set of reforms that remove barriers to their success.
While the industry has benefited from public subsidies and sales in the trillions of dollars, it has marginalized communities by eliminating their rights. With this combination of polices and reforms, it is estimated that the members of the web can produce food efficiently while slashing GHG emissions by 90%. Restore the right to freely save, plant, exchange, sell and breed seeds and livestock Restore rights to land, water, forests, fishing, foraging, and hunting Remove regulations designed to block local markets and diversity Direct public $ to peasant communities to conduct research Establish fair wages and working conditions and Fair trade determined by peasant-led policies Who Will Feed Us? Report from etc group
Increasing the capacity of the small- scale producers would also double or triple rural employment, improve nutritional quality and protect biodiversity. Who Will Feed Us? Report from etc group
This brings us to our final objective: Reverse climate change. Heal the Earth to Cool the Planet. This is the name I gave to the Transition plan which replaces the subsidies for the industry with a public investment to shape a farming system designed to depend on healthy ecosystems and capture carbon.
We can meet the demands of climate with a farming system designed to work in partnership with Nature. To do this we need to increase the number of small- scale, regenerative famers in every landscape.
This bill provides farmers who are currently producing with organic or regenerative methods with resources to augment their operations and be successful. For those farmers currently growing commodity crops for the Chain, this bill offers a set of options for transitioning from that system.
Today, we have patchwork of urban and rural organic farms who face similar challenges. They receive no subsidy and must find a market for their products and charge enough to earn a living. Finding workers for seasonal work is challenging and few can offer good wages or benefits. Land is expensive and difficult to obtain. This bill provides resources to create year-round systems and subsidies for wages, benefits and housing and infrastructure to ensure long term viability. .
For the farmers who work for the industry, the bill provides a pathway to sustainable farming or an option to sell land. As it happens, we are at a critical moment for the farming economy in the United States. A large percentage of farmers are at or near retirement age. This bill provides resources for the transition. We need to remember that in our current system, we pay farmers to grow commodity crops for the industry. It is reasonable to conclude that they would not grow these crops without a subsidy. To achieve our goals, we need to pay farmers to participate in the regenerative economy.
In this final part of the presentation I will offer some conclusions and thoughts about how the bill can provide direction for taking action.
Whether we shop at the farmers’ market or are a member of a CSA or a food co-op, even if we grow our own food, every one of us pays for the Food Chain. Communities are tethered to an economy that is unsustainable. We need an economic solution to this economic problem. The purpose of the Community Food & Water and Farm Bill is to take our right to a publicly funded regenerative food economy seriously and place it firmly in the public agenda as a practical necessity. I would like to report that elected officials are pursuing this agenda. But that is not what I found.
I have met with leaders at every level of government and with organizations working to promote organic food production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is what I found: Leaders lack knowledge of the industry -how it operates or the impacts long term. They do not think about it as a publicly funded economy. Cities, counties and states are writing comprehensive plans, but they not talking about the link between dependence on the food chain and food and water scarcity. These findings suggest that we need to promote a common understanding of the food economy and what is needed.
It also suggests that communities must work together to set the public agenda. We need to be the leaders. Elected officials cannot and will not work on our behalf if they are unaware of the problem or the solution. Communities need to show them what is needed. Our task is 2-fold: First: We need organizations, communities and elected leaders aware of the implications of continuing to subsidize the industry. Secondly: We need to provide the economic vision for resilient communities. And outline a clear set of plans and goals for capturing carbon, water, ecosystem restoration, and local food systems..
We need to frame these plans as local economic development and an investment in public health, clean water, and long term economic security. And we need to be prepared to hold leaders accountable to the vision.
As allies working together, we need to be prepared for challenges to our vision. We should expect to hear this claim: there is no money available for what you want. The truth is that there is money. Cities and states provide money to entice corporations like Walmart to locate in their neighborhoods. This is considered an investment in local development. Small operations do not get this kind of financial incentive. But the demands of climate have changed the rules of the game. Cities and states need to rethink local economic development and invest in local food systems to be resilient. Communities are positioned to insist that public dollars are invested to meet local goals for food and water security. We cannot be timid. Corporations do not approach Congress requesting a grant to fund their industries. They demand billions and they get billions. We can be powerful together when stand behind our vision.
Given the circumstances, I think that we can make the case that we need a Marshall Plan for the 21st Century. In response to the economic devastation wrought by two world wars, leaders implemented the Marshall Plan by investing billions of dollars to provide an economic infrastructure capable of setting Europe on a path for success. The triple challenges of food and water and climate span the globe, not just a continent. Every community throughout the world must be part of the solution. A Marshall Plan would provide vital resources to connect urban and rural communities to achieve common goals. Our elected leaders may not be thinking this way, but we can. And I would argue that we must.
The good news is that visionary leadership for powerful change is already emerging. Two recent initiatives organized by leaders in Minnesota will change the trajectory for food and water. Regeneration Midwest Alliance is creating a 12-state food economy designed to link producers and communities. NATIFS is organizing Native communities across the country to revive traditional local food systems. Each of these initiatives are creating powerful alliances across regions to restore health and well being to landscapes and communities. They offer great models to emulate in the public sector. Regeneration Midwest Alliance NATIFS.org. Regeneration International
I believe that we are at a crossroads. The challenges we face offer an opportunity to set a new course together-one that aligns our needs and values with our investments to support an economy and culture of health and well-being. We can find common purpose in a shared vision and together put our house in order to leave in the care of future generations. Let’s begin with food and water. The Community Food & Water and Farm Bill makes the pathway visible.
Together Toward a Sustainable Future
Community Food & Water and Farm Bill Prologue Where we are now What this bill proposes Objectives of the bill Conclusions and leadership Wrap up
Prologue Two stories: Leadership: the Mixtec Community of Oaxaca, Mexico Our Story of Water
Partners with Nature Past and Present
Our Story of Water
Maya Waka Wapan-Chippewa River Ecosystem Who is she? 2080 square miles of ecosystem 1.3 million acre basin Flows 130 miles Total stream network of 2000 miles Empties into the Minnesota River
Maya Waka Wapan-Chippewa River Contaminants Excess nitrogen (fertilizer run-off) Ortho and total phosphorus Ecoli Turbidity Algae Suspended solids Erosion (due to agricultural practices)
Downstream The story continues. Millions of acres of water systems and soil are no longer recognizable as living, breathing systems.
Is She Still a River? Can a contaminated ecosystem continue to offer a home? If not, then how did this happen?
How Did This Happen? The condition of this river was not inevitable. It is not the result of simple carelessness. It is the byproduct of a publicly-subsidized food economy.
Water: Part II AQUIFER ‘a body of permeable rock that can contain or transmit groundwater’
Aquifers and Industrial Agriculture Today, the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted at an annual volume equivalent to 18 Colorado Rivers. More than 90% of the water pumped is used to irrigate industrial farms: corn, soy, sorghum, wheat and corn.
No More Water In a few decades, the 174,000 square mile Ogallala Aquifer will be gone. Reduced to nothing by 90 years of irrigating commodity crops.
Water and Food Crisis 80% of the world’s freshwater is used to irrigate crops grown on industrial farms
Water and Industrial Agriculture Direct consequence: Contamination of water Vanishing aquifers
How Did This Happen? Depletion of the aquifer was not inevitable. It is not the result of simple carelessness. It is the byproduct of a publicly-subsidized food economy that depends on this practice It is legal!
Community Food & Water and Farm Bill Prologue Where we are now What this bill proposes Objectives of the bill Conclusions and leadership Wrap up
Where We Are Now The Chain and the Web There are two food systems operating in the world today: The industrial food chain The peasant food web The Mixtec community represents the members of small-scale producers of the food web.
The Industrial Food Chain controls/determines: Policy (Farm Bill) Public investments Creates markets for the world’s food economy-and our food. Where We Are Now Industrial Food Chain in the Driver’s Seat
Production inputs consist of: Crop and livestock genomes followed by: Pesticides, veterinary medicines, fertilizers and farm machinery Crop production Transportation and storage to Milling, processing and packaging Wholesaling, retailing and delivery to stores, restaurants and homes (and consumption) Where We Are Now What is the Industrial Food Chain?
Where We Are Now The Chain’s Crops: Where Do They Go? Crops: Corn Soybeans Beet sugar Wheat Canola Palm oil
Where We Are Now The Chain’s Food Products & Byproducts Processed foods: 75% of the Chain’s sales Sales increased by 92% to $2.2 trillion since 2002 Packaging and pollution are byproducts **An estimated 8 million tons of plastic leaks into oceans annually– 33% of which is discarded by the Chain
Where We Are Now The Industrial Food Chain-Costs Annual costs: Annual purchases: $7.55trillion Including: Overconsumed food: $1.26 trillion Wasted Food $2.49 trillion: EXTRA cost: Social, ecosystems, health $4.8 trillion Real cost: $12.37 trillion
Where We Are Now What Does the Chain Cost? For every dollar we pay to Chain retailers, society pays another $2 for health and ecosystem damage. The total bill for the Chain’s direct and indirect costs is 5 times the world’s military expenditure!
Where We Are Now The Chain-Resource Use The Chain feeds 30% of the world’s people while: Using 75% of the world’s agricultural land Destroying 75 billion tons of topsoil annually Cutting down 7.5 million hectares of forest Accounting for 90% of agricultural use of fossil fuels And 80% of freshwater use
Where We Are Now Pollinators, Diversity, and Microbes Threatened Genetically-uniform crops and livestock combined with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides decimate beneficial agricultural microbes and pollinators Damaging soil health and makes animals vulnerable to disease Mass production of crops and animals increases use of antibiotics
Where We Are Now The Web vs The Chain
Where We Are Now Vital Contribution of Indigenous Peoples Indigenous Peoples: Discovered, protected or domesticated and bred and nurtured every food species we use. Their scientific research, knowledge, skills and foods remain the foundation for food and water security
Where We Are Now Vital Contribution of Indigenous Peoples Indigenous Peoples: Generated every known method of preservation including: Drying, smoking, salting, pickling, fermenting, and freezing Today 2 billion people in the Global South depend on artisanal preservation methods
Where We Are Now Biodiversity, Local Adaptability to Climate The Mixtec and their counterparts around the world: Bred and donated to gene banks 2.1 million varieties of 7,000 domesticated plant species 80-90% of small scale growers seeds are saved, shared or locally traded Protect and interbreed 50,000-60,000 wild (plant) relatives at no cost (est. value $196 billion)
Where We Are Now The Chain:cost of GMO seeds In contrast: a single genetically modified seed costs $136 million to get to market The Chain’s crop genetic uniformity makes it increasingly vulnerable to disease and to the forces of climate
Where We Are Now The Chain: Climate Change The Chain contributes between 44-57 % of greenhouse gas emissions:
Where We Are Now The Chain Our public dollars subsidize a food chain that: Costs trillions of dollars annually Contaminates water and depletes water sources Major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions Impairs and destroys small-scale food growing communities Creates food and water scarcity Tethers local communities to economic dependence on destruction of ecosystems
Where We Are Now Trade and Community The ‘Market” created by the industry for the industry Trade and ‘development’ Small-scale producers Industrial food chain This is not a ‘free’ market economy. It is a created market for products subsidized by billions of public dollars
Where We Are Now Trade: NAFTA and Created Scarcity Markets created for the corporate food chain Local small scale growers unable to compete with subsidized US grown corn Unable to sell their corn, farmers are forced to migrate to find work
Where We Are Now Trade and Community: Created Scarcity Small-scale farming community destabilized Loss of vital food economy, science, local ecological knowledge (LEK) and seed diversity Loss of farmers capable of adapting to climate Loss of local rights Indigenous communities hit the hardest
Where We Are Now Trade: Impacts Mexico now dependent on importing 40% of its food Corporate food chain expands reach Walmart is now the largest retailer in Mexico Replaced small local stores Local dependence on corporate food chain expands
Where We Are Now Trade: Mexico and GMO Corn Mexico is on the front line in the battle against genetically modified corn. Planting of GMO Corn is currently prohibited. Growing GMO corn threatens the genetic diversity of native varieties and our food security GMO threatens the wealth (measured in seeds) generated by indigenous communities
Where We Are Now Economic ‘Development’
Where We Are Now Costs of Industrial Food Economy Small-scale growers and their land are targeted for industry’s projects Loss of land, seed diversity, community Loss of Rights Forced migration
Where We Are Now Trade, Economic Development and Community Rights Communities organizing to oppose industrial development: Declaring their right to grow food Disputing the claims of the industrial food chain, the World Bank and the IMF that claim “industrial food chain is needed to feed the world”
Where We Are Now Industry Claims versus Reality Agricultural industry claims we need their approach to feed the world BUT Small–scale, locally adapted, regenerative systems are more productive and efficient Use less energy, less land and water Includes carbon capture Protects biodiversity and seed diversity
Where We Are Now Current Publicly-Funded Food Economy Fails to Provide: Right to Food and Water Affordable food and water for everyone Health and well-being for people and planet Right to grow food Climate–readiness A foundation for the future
Where We Are Now How Does the Industry Succeed? Winning combination: Public Money Public policy (aka the Farm Bill) Trade arrangements for corporate food chain
Where We Are Now How Do We Succeed? Winning combination: Flip the dollars Replace the Farm Bill Establish Community Fair Trade
Community Food & Water and Farm Bill Where we are now What this bill proposes Objectives of the bill Conclusions and leadership Wrap up
What This Bill Proposes A New Food and Water Story An economic solution to an economic problem Provides public investment to farmers for regenerative system Aligns public investments with needs and values Restores health to ecosystems and communities Pathway to climate readiness and food and water security
What This Bill Proposes Recognizes Leadership and Necessary Reforms Create an efficient food web connecting urban and rural communities Economic development defined by sustainability Recognizes leadership- indigenous and other small scale producers Provides needed reforms to empower small scale producers
What This Bill Proposes Align Investments with Goals Invest in ecological infrastructure Healthy ecosystems Soil Economy Water Economy Biological diversity Regenerative design Invest in local economic development Regenerative economy
Community Food & Water and Farm Bill Where we are now What this bill proposes Objectives of the bill Conclusions and leadership Wrap up
Objectives 1. Restore Ecosystems - Water
Objectives 1. Restore Ecosystems - Water Maya Waka Wapan-Chippewa River Ecosystem Farmers offered subsidies to adopt regenerative farming River and soil returns to health Healthy soil sequesters carbon and absorbs water Wildlife return Community thrives as a center for regenerative farming
Objectives 1. Restore Ecosystems - Soil and Biodiversity Example: Main Street Project in Northfield, MN Regenerative system Depends on healthy ecosystems and science Provides a local food source Provides a living for farmers Creates a landscape capable of capturing carbon and rainfall effectively
Objectives 2. Regenerative Food – Key to Success of Local Economy
Objectives 2. Regenerative Food – Key to Success of Local Economy
Objectives 2. Regenerative Food – Key to Success of Local Economy Neighborhood Food Hub: Connect sources to communities Food Access-hubs and satellites System capable of achieving resiliency goals Cultivates and nurtures community Center Research –generates and maintains LEK
Objectives 3. Connected by Common Purpose
Objectives 3. Connected by Common Purpose Every Community an Economic Engine for Sustainable Living. Need a winning strategy to meet the challenge Share a vision and common purpose Create an economy designed to manage challenge successfully
Objectives 4. Establish Rights for Nature and Communities Establish rights for Nature Establish rights for communities Establish economic rights
Objectives 4. Establish Rights for Nature and Communities
Objectives 5. Reforms and Universal Fair Trade Restore right to freely save, plant, exchange, sell and breed seeds and livestock Agrarian reform-right to land, water, forests, fishing, foraging, hunting Remove regulations that block local markets and diversity Direct public $ for research to indigenous Establish fair wages, working conditions Fair trade determined by peasant-led policies
Objectives 5. Reforms and Universal Fair Trade Strengthen capacity of the Peasant Food Web Slash agricultural GHG emissions by 90% Double or triple rural employment Improve nutritional quality Produce abundant sources of food
Objectives 6. Reverse Climate Change
Objectives 7. Reimagine Role of Farmers & Farming
Objectives 7. Reimagine Role of Farmers & Farming Cannot meet the challenges without farmers Increase the number of small-scale farmers Strategies for each type of farmer Small scale organic producers Commodity crop producers
Economic infrastructure to create: Year-round local farming operations Deep winter greenhouse On-farm research Public subsidy for living wages, benefits for work force Connection to neighborhoods (markets and hubs) Objectives 7. Reimagine Role of Farmers & Farming
From industry-dependent to climate-ready An annual income during time to let the land lie fallow to recover from chemical contamination (3-5 years) Transition planning options (land transfer, division or reorganization for regenerative farming) Participate in training - regenerative farming Economic Infrastructure for regenerative farming system in partnership with local community Objectives 7. Reimagine Role of Farmers & Farming
Community Food & Water and Farm Bill Where we are now What this bill proposes Objectives of the bill Conclusions and Leadership Wrap up
Conclusions and Leadership Current Farm Bill advances an unsustainable economy We need an economic solution to this economic problem Public Agenda: address the challenges of climate and food and water security Invest public resources in local regenerative systems and ecosystem restoration to achieve goals
Leadership: Public Agenda Planning and Action-where are we now Leaders unaware of the impacts of the industry- Lack knowledge of the food economy Comprehensive plans-no food and water Common understanding of the problem in order to address it successfully
Leadership: Public Agenda Community Economic Resiliency Plan Every community needs an economic plan Public investment to implement it Creates capacity to live sustainably Local, regenerative food system-sourcing, preparation, preserving and delivery Ecosystem restoration( pollinator, water, soil, native plants, seeds, oceans) Carbon capture goals Research-science and art of food economics
Leadership: Public Agenda Community Economic Resiliency Plan Create public agenda and set expectations for: Local economic development Health and well-being of communities Clean water Affordable and accessible healthy food Capacity to participate and benefit in the local economy Resiliency goals
Leadership: Public Agenda Allies for a Common Purpose Beware of scarcity claim Replace fear and planned scarcity with commitment to common purpose Local economic development/investment to meet climate and food and water goals Build networks committed to pursue a set of goals and demands Plan to win
Leadership-pathway to success Marshall Plan for the 21st Century
Community Leadership Visionary Models Creating Pathways for Success Regeneration Midwest Alliance (with Regeneration International) NATIFS and the Sioux Chef
Crossroads: A Promising Future Alignment of values and needs with public investments Support a culture of health and well being Climate change offers enormous leverage
Together Toward a Sustainable Future For more information go to: justfoodandwater.org
Summary: Artist and community organizer Marita Bujold shares how climate change is our opportunity to put our house in order - starting with food and water. The presentation addresses: - Empowering communities and farmers with economic tools to sustain life and cool the planet. - Restoring health to ecosystems. - Aligning our public investments with our needs to be climate ready.