Last Monday, hundreds of farmers from across the country converged on Washington, D.C. to demand that legislators respond to the climate crisis in the upcoming Farm Bill. This legislation, which is currently in the early stages of being drafted, will dictate much of the US’s farm policy for the next five years — crucial years for changing course in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
The “Farmer Climate Action Rally for Resilience” and subsequent days of lobbying underscored the strong leadership of farmers who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and those who offer and implement farming solutions to the climate crisis that are rooted in agroecology and racial justice.
PAN Organizing Co-Director and Minnesota farmer Zoe Hollomon was in attendance, along with several close partners from the Midwest Farmers of Color Collective. Among the hundreds of attendees were farmers and advocates brought together by HEAL Food Alliance, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA).
“We are seeing what corporate-controlled food and agriculture systems give us: extraction and crises. Farmers of Color are practicing solutions to so many of the crises our society faces, most brought on by consolidated corporate control of our food and agriculture – food insecurity and public health crises, unsupported local/regional economies, environmental contamination and degradation and global warming.
We need a regional approach to food production and racially equity/ reparative investment in land and resources to grow what our farmers are practicing to scale and change the type of agriculture we invest in. If our citizens and electeds truly want different outcomes, then we need to demand investment in the pathways and people that will provide those outcomes.”
PAN partner Yanely Martinez, who is an organizer with Californians for Pesticide Reform, gave a powerful speech during the Rally for Resistance on Tuesday afternoon, advocating for strong and a transformative Farm Bill that meaningfully protects communities from pesticides:
“I am Yanely Martinez, daughter of farmworkers, mother of four, and City Councilmember of Greenfield, California, in the Salinas Valley, the ‘Salad Bowl of the World.’
In 1988, the great Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, fasted for 36 days to protest the scourge of pesticides — of the poisoning and permanent harm pesticides cause to children, including cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, brain harm, and lung damage.
In Greenfield, and throughout the farmworker communities of California, the fight against the scourge of pesticides continues, these 35 years after Cesar’s last fast.
We need a different kind of farming. One that protects workers and their families, as well as the environment and our climate. We need a Farm Bill that promotes organic regenerative farming for our future health — for our children and for the planet.”
As Congress moves into this year of negotiating the Farm Bill, PAN will be working to lift up the work of our partners and highlight our own priorities, which you can find here.
We know this fight will not be easy—and that there are many forces opposing the steps necessary to transition to agroecological farming practices and mitigate the worst of climate change. But last week, farmers’ message was clear: Congress, we will hold you accountable to make what is necessary possible. All eyes on you.