America’s farmers got here to Washington, D.C., greater than 40 years in the past to avoid wasting their farms. On Tuesday (March 7), a brand new era of farmers, ranchers, farmworkers and activists got here to the nation’s capital to avoid wasting the planet.
John Mellencamp, co-founder of Farm Support, sang Tuesday for these gathered earlier than they marched up Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol constructing, calling for Congress to take motion on local weather change within the forthcoming Farm Invoice.
“Right here’s all I can say – maintain slugging,” stated Mellencamp, recalling how he and Willie Nelson and Neil Younger fashioned Farm Support in 1985 to assist household farmers — a dedication they’ve sustained for 4 many years, joined by Farm Support board members Dave Matthews and Margo Worth.
“We’ve been slugging since 1985 and let’s maintain slugging,” stated Mellencamp. “Let’s attempt to enhance the standard of the meals that we eat, the air that we breathe and the those who we’re.”
Taking the stage noon at Freedom Park, Mellencamp regarded on the crowd earlier than him and remarked: “The faces are a lot youthful than they was. And I feel that’s nice that there are youthful individuals attempting to enhance the planet and the meals that we eat. So it’s as much as you guys to cleared the path.”
With that, Mellencamp performed a spare, acoustic rendition of “Rain on the Scarecrow,” his harrowing 1985 track in regards to the farm foreclosures disaster that led to the creation of Farm Support.
Rain on the scarecrow / blood on the plow
This land fed a nation / this land made me proud
And son, I’m simply sorry there’s no legacy for you now
Farm Support’s personal legacy is the rising consciousness, for the reason that mid-Eighties, of the significance of a nationwide system of agriculture that values household farmers, good meals, soil and water, and powerful communities.
Lately, there additionally has been an growing consciousness that industrial agriculture practiced on giant company farms is contributing to the local weather disaster. In a report in August 2021, the Nationwide Sources Protection Council said that industrial agriculture is a “vital supply” of carbon within the environment.
The farmers and activists in D.C. championed what is named regenerative farming, agriculture strategies that may maintain carbon within the soil, improve biodiversity and assist mitigate local weather change.
Farm Support, with its annual concert events every September, stands out as the highest-profile group drawing consideration to the state of American agriculture — and Willie Nelson is definitely the nation’s best-known champion of household farmers. However this week’s gathering dramatically demonstrated that the breadth and scope of the nation’s farm motion transcends Farm Support.
The Rally for Resistance: Farmers for Local weather Motion was organized underneath the umbrella of the Nationwide Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and concerned some 2 dozen activist organizations and greater than 30 delegations of farmers from throughout the nation who converged on Washington to make their voices heard.
On Wednesday, contributors within the rally are slated to foyer particular person lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Plans for this rally had been revealed on the Farm Support pageant in Raleigh, N.C., in September and completely reported by Fakazakamp. The spark for the gathering is the present debate over the contents of the Farm Invoice, the multi-part, multibillion-dollar laws that’s handed by Congress about each 5 years and has a large affect on how the nation’s meals is grown. The latest Farm Invoice was handed in 2018 and expires this 12 months.
In September, Farm Support joined greater than 150 organizations in co-signing a letter asking President Biden “to weigh in on the following Farm Invoice and demand that Congress construct even additional on the administration’s actions to this point to cut back financial inequality; bridge the nation’s racial divides; finish starvation; confront the local weather disaster; enhance vitamin and meals security; and defend and assist farmers, staff, and communities,” wrote Farm Support communications director Jennifer Fahy.
The night earlier than Mellencamp’s efficiency, supporters gathered at Luther Place Memorial Church on Logan Circle, a website of social activism because it was in-built 1873. Philip Barker, a Black farmer and longtime activist from North Carolina, summed up the main focus of the times of motion: farmer-led local weather options, racial justice within the Farm Invoice, and “communities over companies.”
Periods throughout the rally started with land acknowledgements, statements recognizing that the land upon which the nation’s capital was constructed was taken from indigenous individuals. Different audio system addressed the actual hardships that BIPOC farmers have skilled via many years of U.S. farm coverage. And nonetheless others referred to as for immigration reform as a method to deal with the persistent scarcity of labor on America’s farms. All through, the voices and crowd chants in Spanish testified to the altering demographics of the nation’s farms.
This gathering in Washington had explicit resonance for David Senter, founding father of the American Agriculture Motion. In 1979, Senter was one of many organizers of the Tractorcade protest that drew hundreds of farmers to the capital. They traveled by tractor, touring throughout the U.S. at 15 miles an hour — ”we got here in on each East/West interstate, 100 miles a day,” remembers Senter — to foyer Congress for a brand new Farm Invoice to extend crop costs and to have larger affect in agriculture coverage. (One farmer at Tuesday’s rally returned with the tractor he’d pushed to D.C. in 1979).
Senter then returned to Washington in 1987 to accompany Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp when the 2 artists testified earlier than the Senate Agriculture Committee in regards to the household farm foreclosures disaster.
Senter was one of many featured audio system Tuesday on the rally in Freedom Park. Since his earlier journeys, have the stakes turn out to be increased? “We proceed to lose household farmers and the farms turn out to be bigger and bigger,” replied Senter. “However we have now to determine the right way to make place for the following era of farmers, the younger farmers that need to develop meals for this nation and the world, in order that they will survive.
That “completely does” embrace addressing the local weather subject, stated Senter. “As a result of we dwell in an excessive local weather state of affairs. I imply, you might have floods, tornadoes, wildfires, droughts. It’s simply unbelievable the local weather extremes we’re experiencing and, in fact, farmers, they take care of that every single day, attempting to provide meals. So it’s crucial that we become involved with that.”
When Willie Nelson and his fellow artists fashioned Farm Support in 1985, he recruited Carolyn Mugar to run the group. “The earliest Farm Support information are all stained with spaghetti sauce since I did that work at my kitchen desk,” she recalled Tuesday. Then she set off throughout the nation, talking to farmers at their kitchen tables. (Mugar was acknowledged for her work on Fakazakamp’s Ladies in Music record in 2020, the thirty fifth anniversary of Farm Support).
“What within the Farm Invoice can individuals get behind? Actually, the very backside line of all the pieces is farm viability,” stated Mugar. “A farmer can not actually even begin stepping into regenerative agriculture [to address climate change] if that farm is just not financially viable.
“And that implies that we’ve actually acquired to take a look at how farming needs to be happening on this nation. And do we actually need to proceed company concentrated farming, the place the land is poisonous and ruined, into the long run? Or will we need to assist farmers who’re attempting to maintain, preserve and construct the soil?”
In coping with the nation’s lawmakers, stated Mugar, “we’ve acquired to get smarter about what we demand.”
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