Progressive Plate July 1st
July 1, 2020
Local Root Strategies Team Dishing On All Things Farm & Food Politics
What We’re Talking About
The Agribusiness Solution to Bad Press: “Ag Gag Laws”
The COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in some terrible press for the industrial farm and food system. Including the cruel ways, animals are being euthanized. Factory farms are often in the press for animal abuses, environmental damage, and public health concerns. Instead of taking this as an opportunity to clean up their act and fix the broken industrial food system, they quickly moved to pass ag gag laws and quiet the press. Many states have had laws on the books like this for years as a way to prevent consumers from learning about how their food is produced. Fortunately, a judge recently struck down North Carolina’s Ag Gag Law as unconstitutional.
Independent family farmers have nothing to hide. These ag gag laws are backed by special interest groups, meatpackers, and factory farm operators to keep consumers from seeing how terrible and unsustainable their operations are.
It is no surprise Republican lawmakers overwhelmingly side with corporate agribusinesses on these issues. We need leaders who will fight for consumer transparency and safeguard rural communities.
Legal Trouble for Agrochemical Giant
As with most of the food and farm sector, a couple of giant multinational corporations control a huge majority of seed and chemical inputs for commodity crop production. One of those major players is Bayer-Monsanto, who’s $66 billion merger was approved despite major antitrust concerns. Monsanto has been a flashpoint for years over how they treat farmers and the environment. More recently, Bayer has experienced court losses over Round Up and Dicamba and settled an estimated 95,000 individual claims for over $10 billion. Now a federal judge has halted the sale of Dicamba. Shockingly Trump’s EPA is disregarding the court ruling and allowed continued use.
When we give too much power to multinational agribusinesses they have a lot of influence over regulators and policymakers. This often leads to dire outcomes for many Americans.
Judges and jurors have begun bringing justice to the harm agrochemical companies have caused, but we need to proactively stop big mergers like Bayer-Monsanto in the future and close the revolving door between these companies and government agencies.
Native American Food Sovereignty
When talking about rural communities, land use, and food, first nations people who lived off the land and built the earliest food traditions should be top of mind. Unfortunately, those communities were shut out of much of the farm and food policy process for too long. In recent years, the Native Farm Bill Coalition formed to make indigenous voices heard, winning several victories in 2018. Many tribes are also engaging in rebuilding their local food system, and reintroducing native production. Unfortunately, there are still huge barriers and systemic racism in the food industry, maybe best highlighted by the story of the Tanka Bar. Projects like the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative are helping, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Change In Motion
Senators Open an Investigation Into Big Meatpackers
After the news broke that meatpackers were exporting record amounts of pork while endangering workers under President Trump's Defense Production Act order. Senator Warren and Senator Booker sent corporate meat giants a letter demanding answers. As COVID-19 spreads, more huge farms and food companies will likely be hot spots.
After investigating, what are the next steps of action?
Pass an Essential Workers Bill of Rights
OSHA needs to do its job and protect workers
Invest in local food systems including independent meat processing