Labor

U.S. Farmers and Activists: We Stand with India’s Farmers!

Now let’s connect the dots between the forces of neoliberalism that stifle farmers, from India to the U.S.
Over 85 organizations, representing farmers, agroecologists, and food justice advocates across the United States, express support for the brave and historic farmers’ protests in India.
Over 85 organizations, representing farmers, agroecologists, and food justice advocates across the United States, express support for the brave and historic farmers’ protests in India.

Editorial note: We republish the statement of solidarity from U.S. farmers and activists with the farmers’ protests in India. The original statement, including the full list of signatories, can be found here. You can also read more about the protests in our Wire photo essay documenting the early days of the protests in Punjab.

“We are not going back — that is not in our genetic code. Agriculture has turned into a slow poison. It’s better to die fighting here.” — Ringhu Yaspal, a protestor in Ghazipur, India.

U.S. farmers and allied food justice advocates express our solidarity with the farmer protests in India against the unjust farm laws that will increase agribusiness’ stranglehold over their food system. India’s farmers have mobilized to create one of the world’s most vibrant protests in history, camping on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two and a half months. Their rallying cry is to repeal the three unjust laws that were passed without their knowledge or consultation. We extend our solidarity to countless farmers who are peacefully and boldly standing up for their rights and dignity, with other farmers from across the globe.

One of the key demands of the movement is for farmers to receive a Minimum Support Price (MSP) — currently assured for just a few crops — for all produce, including vegetables, which are essential for healthy diets. This would ensure that farmers in India, already burdened by huge debts, receive a fair price for their produce. MSP is the price at which the Indian government also buys staple grains, like wheat and rice, from farmers for its public food programs so that the poor can access subsidized grains. While the Indian government only procures a small percentage for its food programs, the MSP is a key price signal to other traders in India, and it ensures that farmers receive a fair price for these specific crops.

We recognize the role of the U.S. government in creating the conditions that have led to these repressive laws. The U.S. has been a key opponent of India’s limited use of MSP at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S., with Australia, Canada and European allies, has claimed that India’s MSP distorts trade.

But, that is not surprising: the U.S. government has been eroding the concept of parity (similar to MSP in India) at home for decades. There is an opportunity for the Biden administration to shift U.S. trade policy to allow other countries to support fair markets for their farmers and shift agricultural policy to ensure that our food providers make a living wage.

While the U.S. agricultural sector receives inordinately large support compared to many countries, access to that support remains inequitable. In particular, Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian-Pacific and other people of color producers, who lack secure land tenure and are concentrated in vegetable and small-scale cattle sectors, have been excluded historically. Support flows to larger agribusiness farming operations instead of the independent family farmers whose voices we amplify.

Let us be clear: what the Indian farmers are enduring now happened in the U.S. almost four decades ago. The Reagan era furthered the farm crisis through deliberate federal policy changes, with systematic erosion of parity prices and other deregulatory efforts. “Get big or get out” has been our government’s mantra. Farmers with the means to consolidate have been rewarded for growing monoculture commodities. Tribal nations and traditional producers, as well as small farmers who have always practiced or shifted to diversified agroecological farming have effectively been subsidizing the U.S. agriculture sector. It is rare for these food producers to make a living without supplemental income. Unsurprisingly, farm suicides in rural America are 45% higher than the rest of the population.

The WTO has indeed worsened an already unequal playing field between the Global South and Global North. What every nation-state can do, at the very least, is protect small farmers from deregulatory efforts, such as the three farm laws in India, that diminish the limited bargaining power that farmers have, pushing them off their farms. In the U.S., it is said that the previous administration’s agenda, “focused primarily around deregulation and increasing aid to commodity farmers while cutting food aid to needy families, [which] will have long-lasting implications.”

The Biden-Harris administration is off to a promising start, yet much work remains to be done on parity and environmental and racial justice in relation to food and agricultural policy domestically, as well as internationally. The U.S. government must stop prioritizing the interests of agribusiness over small farmers, abetting further corporatization of the food system here and in other countries. The U.S. must also endorse multilateral governance norms that will support India's transition to climate-resilient, biodiverse and waterconserving food systems that reach all producers. This would also mean harmonizing trade rules to include parity pricing and public crop procurement.

We have great respect for the unified struggles the farmers and farmworkers of Samyukt Kisan Morcha have built, and we stand with them. We urge both governments to support independent family farmers and localized food systems, ensuring food sovereignty and securing the livelihoods of millions who are the bedrock of its food security and nutritional wellbeing.

Statement Endorsed By:

A Growing Culture

Abanitu Organics

AFGE Local 3354

Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network

Agricultural Justice Project

Agroecology Commons

Agroecology Research-Action Collective

Alabama State Association of Cooperatives

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

Alliance for Progressive South Asians (Twin Cities)

American Sustainable Business Council

Americana World Community Center

Ancestor Energy

Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD Georgia

Black Farmers & Ranchers New Mexico/National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association

Buttermilk Falls CSA

Center for Regional Agriculture Food and Transformation

CoFED

Community Agroecology Network

Community Alliance for Global Justice

Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Community Farm Alliance

Community Food and Justice Coalition

Compassionate Action for Animals

Disparity to Parity

Earth Ethics Actio

East Michigan Environmental Action Council/Cass Commons

Echo Valley Hope

Ecologistas en Acción

Ecosocialist Working Group, International Committee, Democratic Socialists of America

Fair World Project

Family Farm Action Alliance

Family Farm Defenders

Farm Aid

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

Farmers On The Move

Farmworker Association of Florida

Ground Operations

Health of Mother Earth Foundation

i4Farmers

Imagining Transnational Solidarities Research Circle

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Institute for Earthbound Studies

Just Transition Alliance

Land Core

National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

National Family Farmers Coalition

Natures Wisdom

NC Climate Justice Collective

NeverEndingFood

North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project

Northeast Organic Farming Association—Vermont

Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter

Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council

OPEIU 39

Peoples Architecture Commonwealth

Pesticide Action Network North America

Philadelphia Community farm

Real Food Media

Regenerative Organic Alliance

Regenerative Rising

Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA

Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecropper Fund

Rural Coalition

Rural Development Leadership Network

Rural Vermont

Safe Food and Feed Foundation

Santa Cruz Permaculture

Science for the People

Science for the People —Twin Cities

Seeds for All

Shaping Change Collaborative

Sierra Club-USA

Southeastern African-American Farmers' Organic Network

Steward Foundation

Texas Drought Project

The Carbon Underground

United People Community Organization, Market, and Farms

University of MN Food Recovery Network

Uprooted & Rising

US Food Sovereignty Alliance

Utopia Cornucopia

Vision for Change Foundation

Vitis and Ovis Farm

Washington Biotechnology Action Council

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

Women’s Environmental Institute

Photo: Rohit Lohia

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Date
04.03.2021

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