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HomeArticleHappened in US 40 Years Ago’: 87 US farmers’ unions speak out for Indian farmers’ protest

Happened in US 40 Years Ago’: 87 US farmers’ unions speak out for Indian farmers’ protest

New Delhi: Citing damning examples of Reagan era policies that have led to irreparable damage to the US’s farmers, 87 farmers’ unions in the country have extended solidarity to the ongoing protests by farmers in India.

In a strong letter, the organisations draw a sharp connection between how agriculture has been affected by “forces of neoliberalism” in both India and the US. The unions began the letter by quoting Ghazipur protester Ringhu Yaspal, who says, “Agriculture has turned into a slow poison. It’s better to die fighting here.”

The unions called the ongoing protests at Delhi’s borders “one of the world’s most vibrant protests in history.”

“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, the unions note.

The unions extol the virtues of MSP, noting that it is a key price signal to other traders, and ensures that farmers receive a fair price for crops.

Notably, the unions recognise the role of the US government in creating the current imbroglio.

“The US has been a key opponent of India’s limited use of MSP at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US, with Australia, Canada and European allies, has claimed that India’s MSP distorts trade.”

In a two-part analysis for The Wire, Indra Sekhar Singh had essayed the after-effects of US policies on agri-business and the model India has sought to follow with these farm laws.

The unions also exhorted the Biden administration to make agricultural policies conducive to farmers.

“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.”

The unions note that it is their understanding that what Indian farmers are enduring now happened in the US almost four decades ago.

“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 US 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 worsened an already unequal playing field between the Global South and Global North, the unions note. 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, they said.

Finally, the unions urged governments in the US and India to support independent farmers and localised food systems.

“We have great respect for the unified struggles the farmers and farmworkers of Samyukt Kisan Morcha have built, and we stand with them,” the unions announced.

Below is the list of signatories:

1. A Growing Culture

2. Abanitu Organics

3. AFGE Local 3354

4. Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network

5. Agricultural Justice Project

6. Agroecology Commons

7. Agroecology Research-Action Collective

8. Alabama State Association of Cooperatives

9. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

10. Alliance for Progressive South Asians (Twin Cities)

11. American Sustainable Business Council

12. Americana World Community Center

13. Ancestor Energy

14. Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD Georgia

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

16. Buttermilk Falls CSA

17. Center for Regional Agriculture Food and Transformation

18. CoFED

19. Community Agroecology Network

20. Community Alliance for Global Justice

21. Community Alliance with Family Farmers

22. Community Farm Alliance

23. Community Food and Justice Coalition

24. Compassionate Action for Animals

25. Disparity to Parity

26. Earth Ethics Action

27. East Michigan Environmental Action Council/Cass Commons

28. Echo Valley Hope

29. Ecologistas en Acción

30. Ecosocialist Working Group, International Committee, Democratic Socialists of America

31. Fair World Project

32. Family Farm Action Alliance

33. Family Farm Defenders

34. Farm Aid

35. Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

36. Farmers On The Move

37. Farmworker Association of Florida

38. Ground Operations

39. Health of Mother Earth Foundation

40. i4Farmers

41. Imagining Transnational Solidarities Research Circle

42. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

43. Institute for Earthbound Studies

44. Just Transition Alliance

45. Land Core

46. National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

47. National Family Farmers Coalition

48. Natures Wisdom

49. NC Climate Justice Collective

50. NeverEndingFood

51. North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project

52. Northeast Organic Farming Association — Vermont

53. Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter

54. Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council

55. OPEIU 39

56. Peoples Architecture Commonwealth

57. Pesticide Action Network North America

58. Philadelphia Community farm

59. Real Food Media

60. Regenerative Organic Alliance

61. Regenerative Rising

62. Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA

63. Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecropper Fund

64. Rural Coalition

65. Rural Development Leadership Network

66. Rural Vermont

67. Safe Food and Feed Foundation

68. Santa Cruz Permaculture

69. Science for the People

70. Science for the People — Twin Cities

71. Seeds for All

72. Shaping Change Collaborative

73. Sierra Club-USA

74. Southeastern African-American Farmers’ Organic Network

75. Steward Foundation

76. Texas Drought Project

77. The Carbon Underground

78. United People Community Organization, Market, and Farms

79. University of MN Food Recovery Network

80. Uprooted & Rising

81. US Food Sovereignty Alliance

82. Utopia Cornucopia

83. Vision for Change Foundation

84. Vitis and Ovis Farm

85. Washington Biotechnology Action Council

86. Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

87. Women’s Environmental Institute

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