Preacher Became a Champion for Black-Led Sustainable Agriculture

In 1979, an idealistic 44-year-old Black woman named Nettie Mae Morrison moved with her husband to Allensworth, 75 miles south of Fresno, in California’s Central Valley.

“She wanted to be a part of history,” said her son, Dennis Hutson, who was in his mid-20s at the time.

The town had a distinctive past. It was founded in 1908 by Allen Allensworth, a man born into slavery who became the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. About 3 square miles in size, Allensworth was the first town in California founded and governed by Black people—and it served as a beacon of possibility for Black people all over the nation, its population growing to around 1,200 people.

But the community soon fell on hard times.

In 1914, the Santa Fe Railroad Company moved its rail stop from Allensworth to nearby Alpaugh, a majority-White town, dealing a major blow to Allensworth’s economy. That same year, Col. Allensworth died after being struck by a motorcycle during a visit to Los Angeles.

— source | Tiffani Patton | Sep 9, 2022

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GST on Dairy Products a ‘Death Warrant’ for Small Farmers

Coming down heavily on introducing the Good and Services Taxes (GST) on dairy products, the farmers’ organisations on Saturday said that it would prove to be a “death knell” for small dairies and farmers who have been barely managing the rising input costs.

Ashok Dhawale, President, All India Kisan Sabha said that recommendations of the 47th meet of the council to impose 5% GST on dairy products and increasing the tax rate from 12% to 18% on dairy machinery including the milking machines will affect over 9 crore households engaged in milk production. He said that the BJP is seeking centralisation of political authority and capital and the move remains in this direction.

Talking to NewsClick, the veteran farmers’ leader said, “India is the world’s largest milk producer, and the sector is characterised by the concentration of petty producers with 75% of the rural households owning 2-4 cows. Women and peasants from the lowest social strata are highly dependent on the dairy sector. The fact that the livestock sector contributes about one-fourth output of the agricultural sector shows the economic significance of the sector for the 9 crore farming households. However, the recent changes in

— source | Ravi Kaushal | 03 Jul 2022

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88% of Over 9,000 Punjab Farmers Who Died by Suicide in 18 Years Were Debt-Ridden

As many as 9,291 farmers died by suicide between 2000 and 2018 in six districts of Punjab, a Panjab Agriculture University (PAU) study published in the latest edition of Economic and Political Weekly has revealed.

The districts surveyed were Sangrur, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Mansa, Moga and Barnala.

Heavy debt – most incurred against loans from non-institutional sources – was stated as the prime driving factor in 88% of these cases, the study has found.

Marginal and small farmers were the chief victims – 77% of famers who died by suicide owned fewer than two hectares of land, the study said.

The field survey also revealed that around 93% of the affected households were of those where one death by suicide had occurred. In 7% of the families, there were two or more

— source | Vivek Gupta | 21/Jun/2022

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Save the gardens

No Place to Grow

No Place to Grow is a short film that follows a group of Latino farmers that find themselves representing a movement to save the last green space centered within a neighborhood facing gentrification. Over time we find out what happens when migrated farming traditions intersect with the “urban growth machine.” Set in Santa Cruz, California — a small city known for its liberal ideology — a community becomes conflicted as the fate of the garden is in jeopardy.

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Troubles begin after a good harvest

Rajiv Kumar Ojha does not know which is more stressful: harvesting a decent crop or trying to sell it. “You might find it funny, but my troubles begin after I get a good harvest at the end of the cropping season,” he said, sitting in the verandah of his dilapidated house in Chaumukh, a village in north-central Bihar.

Ojha, 47, cultivates paddy in the kharif season (June-November), and wheat and maize during rabi (December-March) on his five-acre farmland in the village, located in Muzaffarpur district’s Bochaha taluka . “Weather, water, labour and many more things need to come together for us to get a good harvest,” he told me in November 2020. “But even after that, there is no market. I have to sell my stock to the commission agent in the village, and I have to sell it at the price he fixes.” The agent in turn sells it to a wholesale trader for a commission.

In 2019, Ojha sold his stock of raw paddy at the rate of Rs. 1,100 per quintal – this was 39 per cent less than the MSP (minimum support price) of Rs. 1,815 at that time. “I didn’t have an option. The agents always buy at a lower rate because they know we can’t go anywhere [to sell]. So we hardly make any profit,” he said.

A farmer in Bihar invests Rs. 20,000 on an acre of paddy, said Ojha. “I get 20-25 quintals of harvest on an acre. At 1,100 rupees a quintal, I can make a profit of 2,000-7,000

— source | Parth M.N. | May 1, 2021

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Another False Start in Africa Sold with Green Revolution Myths

Since the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was launched in 2006, yields have barely risen, while rural poverty remains endemic, and would have increased more if not for out-migration.

AGRA was started, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, to double yields and incomes for 30 million smallholder farm households while halving food insecurity by 2020.

There are no signs of significant productivity and income boosts from promoted commercial seeds and agrochemicals in AGRA’s 13 focus countries. Meanwhile, the number of undernourished in these nations increased by 30%!

When will we ever learn?
What went wrong? The continuing Indian farmer protests, despite the COVID-19 resurgence, highlight the problematic legacy of its Green Revolution (GR) in frustrating progress to

— source | Timothy A. Wise, Jomo Kwame Sundaram

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Mexico’s new rules on nutrition labeling, glyphosate and GMO

Letter to Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack on USMCA and Mexico

Dear Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack:

Congratulations on your recent confirmations. We are organizations representing family-scale farmers, ranchers and fishermen, farm workers, rural communities and producer advocates that promote fair trade and agroecological, sustainable farming practices. We appreciate statements by both of you recognizing the need for greater equity and a balancing of public interests in the policies of the Department of Agriculture and in our trade agreements. Ambassador Tai’s acknowledgement in her confirmation hearing that trade has failed to “bring up standards with respect to workers and environmental protection,” instead often producing “a race to the bottom,” and her work to improve the environmental, labor and public health provisions of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) are an important frame on which to build this future policy.1

Thus, we read with concern the March 22, 2021 letter to you from food and agricultural trade associations raising objections to health, consumer and farmer protections and agricultural policies of the government of Mexico and seeking your intervention. Among other complaints, which appear to be based on unspecified provisions governing trade, the letter objected to front of package nutrition warning labels (NOM-051) that came into force on October 1, 2020, and policies to reduce and gradually phase out the use and importation of glyphosate and genetically modified corn.

— source | Apr 16, 2021

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5,579 Indian farmers died by suicide in 2020

Some 5,579 Indian farmers died by suicide in 2020, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar, told the Lok Sabha November 30, 2021. The figures are according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), that has published reports on farmer suicides up to 2020. These reports are available on its website. Tomar added that the Union government had received no report on farmers, especially in Madhya Pradesh, committing suicide due to unavailability of fertiliser.

— source | 30 Nov 2021

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After a Century of Dispossession, Black Farmers Are Fighting to Get Back to the Land

In the decades before the Civil War, one of the South’s largest slave enterprises held sway on the northern outskirts of Durham, North Carolina. At its peak, about 900 enslaved people were compelled to grow tobacco, corn, and other crops on the Stagville Plantation, 30,000 acres of rolling piedmont that had been taken from the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. Today, the area has a transitional feel: Old farmhouses, open fields, and pine forests cede ground to subdivisions, as one of America’s hottest real estate markets sprawls outward.

On a sunny winter afternoon, farmer and food-justice activist Tahz Walker greets me on a 48-acre patch of former Stagville property called the Earthseed Land Collective. Walker and a few friends pooled their resources and bought this parcel, he says, to experiment with collective living, and inspire “people of color to reimagine their relationship to land.” He leads me through the gate of the property’s Tierra Negra Farm, a 2-acre plot of vegetable rows, hoop houses, and a grassy patch teeming with busy hens. It’s one of several enterprises housed within the land collective, which also features a commercial worm-compost operation, a capoeira studio, and homes for several members, including the 1930s farmhouse where Walker lives with his wife and co-farmer, Cristina Rivera-Chapman, and their two kids. Tierra Negra markets its produce through a subscription veggie-box service that goes to 20 nearby families—including descendants of Stagville’s enslaved population—and supplies Communities in Partnership, a local nonprofit that brings affordable fresh food to historically Black, fast-gentrifying East Durham.

As it’s January, most of the rows are fallow. Walker points to a patch of bare ground that grew sweet potatoes the previous season. “It’s a variety that was grown by a Black

— source | Tom Philpott | May 2021

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