Category Archives: Food Security

Make a Resilient, Localized Food System Part of the Next Stimulus

CounterPunch – May 25, 2020 – Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

From wasted food, to the exploitation of farmworkers, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that this country’s food system must be changed. Politicians must pass further stimulus legislation that includes policy to reform our inflexible, consolidated food system to prepare for future crises.

Consider the many problems in the meat industry. Workers ill with COVID caused temporary  processing facility closures, putting our nation’s meat supply in jeopardy.  President Trump forced meatpacking plants to re-open by executive order, yet, further disruptions are likely. Roughly half of those plant workers are immigrants, living at or below the poverty line, forced to return to work, they are still at risk of getting sick.

Because these plants could not shift production to the retail market when restaurants, schools, and hotels closed, product could not move. These supply chain bottlenecks caused farmer prices to fall, even as processor profits rose.

And cattle ranchers were not the only farmers affected, dairy farmers were told to dump milk, and hog and poultry producers, to euthanize their animals and vegetable growers were forced to plow their crops under. Desperately needed food is wasted while grocery costs rise allowing retailers to cash in on supply chain breakdowns.

Before the pandemic hit, close to three million farmworkers who labor on some of the larger operations in this country already struggled.  Most lived in poverty, earning between $15,000 to $18,000 a year and around 75% of farmworkers lacked legal status and lived in fear of deportation.

Now, farmworkers face the risk contracting COVID-19. In California’s Monterey county, around 40% of the people who have contracted the virus are those people who labor in the fields. USDA’s response? Instead of improving working conditions for farmworkers, the USDA  wants to pay them less.

USDA has allocated $16 billion in direct payments to farmers, as well as creating the ‘farm to families box’ program – where suppliers, with larger operations having a seeming advantage, sell their produce to the government for distribution at food banks.  Both initiatives are band-aids, with direct payments mirroring past trade deal mitigation payments, wherein larger operations and multinational agribusiness firms such as JBS  are at the front of the line. This, as farm bankruptcies hit an eight-year high.

To really address the failures of the food system – and to position ourselves to adequately face the next crisis, we must reform our food system, ensure fair farm prices, empower agricultural workers and invest in rural infrastructure.

Farmworkers, in addition to citizenship, must be allowed to organize without fear of reprisal from their employer.  Currently, only California guarantees this right because the National Labor Relations Act excludes rural workers from the right to unionize. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act includes citizenship for farmworkers, still, efforts should go further by allowing workers the right to organize.

Farmworkers should also have the chance to become farmers. Since 2008, through the Farm Service Agency’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) over $162 billion has been provided to former farmworkers, including women, veterans and Native Americans, to promote small-scale agriculture. Doubling, or tripling the resources dedicated to this program, could help create a more localized food system and put more farmers on the land.

All farmers, need fair markets and fair prices. The government must, as it has in the past, establish reserves for grains, as well as other products.  Counter-cyclical government loans – a part of previous Farm Bills – would allow farmers to sell their produce either on the market, or into the reserves, with their decision based on a floor price that farmers, processors, and retailers would negotiate. Reserves would improve prices for farmers, prevent food shortages and stabilize consumer prices.

Smaller local processing facilities – for beef, dairy, as well as fruits and vegetables – would strengthen markets and make the supply chain more flexible. This should include more brick and mortar facilities, as well as mobile facilities that can travel from farm to farm, giving farmers multiple options for sales and consumers more options on how they buy.

Rural areas are in desperate need of improved communications and transportation infrastructure. The Post Office provides rural residents affordable access to the rest of the world and its viability must be ensured. Similarly, broadband internet access must be made available to everyone. And if farmers are to move their product, significant resources need to be spent on improving roads, dams, bridges and railroads.

The effects of the COV-19 pandemic have shown that large processors cannot meet the challenges of a crisis. A less consolidated food system that is more flexible, and supportive of farmers and workers will be better able to meet future challenges. Upcoming stimulus plans must address these problems in our food system now and for the long term. If they do, we might be ready for the next challenge.

Jim Goodman is an emeritus organic dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin .

Anthony Pahnke is the Vice President of the Family Farm Defenders and Assistant Professor of International Relations at San Francisco State University.

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Africa and the world needs to hear this; Dr Vandana Shiva Calls War On Bill Gates – Video 44 min

Zoom Africa TV – Apr 20, 2020 – Video 44min

Our goal at Zoom Africa TV is to throw more light on everything concerning Africa, zoom into the values and beauty of what makes us Africans as well as showcase investment opportunities for Africans in the diaspora and make it easy for people to see available investment opportunities. But in doing that, we don’t forget to also entertain you.

VIDEO SOURCE

Vandana Shiva On the Real Cause of World Hunger – Video

Food Farmer Earth – Mar 10, 2020 – Video 3 min

VIDEO – 3 min

“…food production must once again be an issue of sustainability, taking care of the earth and the human right to food must be an inalienable right.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva

Trained as a physicist, Vandana Shiva is an organic farmer, social activist and renowned environmentalist. She warns that global hunger is a product of “intensive chemical farming” which turns biodiverse land into monocultures that are too costly for farmers to sustain and produces too little nutritional crops for local consumption. In this 2009 interview, Vandana Shiva talks about third world countries like her native India where agricultural communities are surrounded by fertile farmland and highly favorable growing conditions yet struggle with high rates of childhood hunger. Much of the food grown by indigenous farmers are exported to richer countries.

Transcript:

I think the first thing to recognize about hunger, is that today, it’s a rural phenomena, it’s mainly in third world countries it’s mainly among communities that are actually agricultural communities. So why are people who are growing food going hungry themselves, they’re going hungry, because everything they have grown has to be sold in order to pay for the costly seeds and the costly chemicals. So a high cost chemical intensive agriculture is a recipe for hunger.

Secondly, The models of agriculture that chemical farming has promoted a monocultures. monocultures are nutritionally impoverished, the same acre of land. Using biodiversity using organic and ecological methods could produce five to 10 times more nutrition than a monoculture can so maximizing the production of commodities for international trade is directly proportionate to the decrease in nutrition availability to local communities which is why hunger grows. If the, the world has to be fed. It has to be fed by growing food locally, to be used locally as the biggest proportion of the food basket.

Some elements will be traded internationally. But what is traded internationally should not be staple foods. What is traded internationally shouldn’t be that extra flavor of spices from India, and coffee from Guatemala. That’s all right. But to turn the world into a dependency on staples, has nothing to do with feeding the world, it has a lot to do with controlling the food supply.

The United States evolved phrase during the Vietnam War and the war phrase was food as a weapon. The use of food as the ultimate weapon of control, and the tragedy is the growth of Agribusiness in the US has gone hand in hand with the US foreign policy to deliberately create hunger locally in order to make the world dependent on food supplies, through which you can then control countries and their decision making ability. So hunger is has become an instrument of war and food, responding to that artificially created hunger is an instrument for peace means you grow food locally you grow foods, the peace.

You grow food non-violently, and the countries that are today was victims of hunger could be the highest produce of food. Africa has the largest land per eight by human being, per capita Africa is an abundant continent. And yet because of the deliberate policies. It has today been turned into a continent of under, India, which has the best source the best monsoons the highest biodiversity should not have any problem with growing in our food, and yet 70% of our children are going hungry, because the economic system is robbing them of their right to food.

So, food production must once again be an issue of sustainability, taking care of the earth and the human right to food must be an inalienable right. These rights cannot be ensured through a marketplace where food has become a commodity and then a subject of speculation. We saw what speculation did in 2008 food prices doubled, and the companies that control the food system, double their profits, while riots took place in 40 countries.

END.

Bananas As We Know Them Are Doomed – Video 14 min

Vice News – Feb 29, 2020 – Video 14 min

There are thousands of types of bananas but Americans have eyes for only one kind — the very marketable yellow Cavendish, which accounts for 95% of global banana exports. But this multi-billion dollar industry is under threat. A fungus called Panama Disease is rapidly infecting the world’s Cavendish crops and could spell disaster for the monoculture-dependent worldwide banana trade. VICE correspondent Isobel Yeung heads to the heart of banana country in Latin American and the Philippines to see the devastating effects of the disease and to investigate what the loss of the banana would really mean besides a less colorful lunchbox. 

VIDEO 14 MIN

Changing climate is affecting how we feed ourselves – CBC Radio Ideas – AUdio 53 min

CBC Radio – Nov 29, 2019 – IDEAS – Audio 53 min

UN advisor says climate change is forcing us to rethink how our food systems work

Listen to the full episode 53:59

David Nabarro is hopeful. That may be an odd way to describe someone who deals specifically with the issue of food sustainability and security in a world awash in conflict and destabilized by climate change. He says he sees promise in the young generation that is keenly aware of the problems it is inheriting and is refusing to sit by and watch.

Nabarro began his career as a physician nearly five decades ago. He worked in a tiny clinic in the Himalayas treating poor and sick parents and children. As a young doctor he began to see how the lack of nutritious food kept his patients in a cycle of poverty and poor health. Today, he is in a position to talk about food — its production, storage, transport, distribution, and consumption — at a global level and engage with a variety of stakeholders and bring them together to confront both scarcity and abundance in the face of climate change.

Nabarro says governments are focused, understandably, on the need to make lots of food cheaply available. He points out that when food prices rose drastically in 2008, governments the world over felt vulnerable. “There were riots in 34 countries and a number of governments fell because people just didn’t get the food that they needed and they were demonstrating in the streets. And I realized that food security, having enough to eat, is not just an issue for your health, but it’s also an issue that has profound political consequences to the point where governments put ensuring that people get the food they need when they need it at a price they can afford, very high up the ladder of political imperatives.”

A demonstrator holds a terrestrial globe in Lisbon during a worldwide protest demanding action on climate change, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Students worldwide are skipping class Friday to take to the streets to protest their governments’ failure to take sufficient action against global warming. (AP Photo/Armando Franca) (The Associated Press)

This imperative often stands in the way of strong policies around mitigating the impact of food production on the climate. Nabarro points out that unused food, which could otherwise feed millions of people, has a negative impact on the climate as it begins to rot.  Up to 30% of food is wasted. And when it comes to perishable foods, that figure is even higher — about 50%. This is where David Nabarro steps in. He says it is possible to bring governments, corporations, farmers, activists, and other stakeholders together and work in a cohesive way to address concerns and make better policy. 

Nabarro says that unfortunately governments will put their own domestic political realities ahead of global concerns. But he adds that the insistence of large numbers of young people in keeping climate change at the forefront has forced the powerful to take the issue seriously. And it’s that involvement of younger people that inspires hope. He sees a desire to build a global consensus around food and food-related issues — a consensus that is strongly informed by the need to confront the very thing — climate change — that could make all other issues moot.

++ This episode was produced by Naheed Mustafa.

Food Rescue (Ottawa) Nourish Your Community

FOODRESCUE.CA – Nov 18, 2019

FoodRescue.ca is your neighbourhood connection
for any food business to donate any type of unsold, good food to any organization that feeds people in need.

SMART. SIMPLE. LOCAL.

Not-for-profit organizations can rescue nutritious food directly from local donors.

If you’re a food business with excess food, use our free tool to donate food safely and easily.

We can all learn a few simple ideas to use food more wisely at home.

A NEW WAY TO DONATE EXCESS FOOD.

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