Farm Labor Reality Tour WI Snapshots

Thanks to Siena Chrisman and Why Hunger for helping document the Farm Labor Reality Tour!

, February 27, 2013

The Farm Labor Reality Tour spent the last several days in snowy Wisconsin, lending support to food workers’ struggles for justice, talking with organic farmers, and digging in to work on a dairy farm. Here’s some snapshots of the last few days.

First stop was in Milwaukee, on a picket line with Palermo’s Pizza workers who are on strike for the right to organize.

Maine farmer Bob St. Peter, of Food for Maine’s Future (second from left) and his family joined striking Palermo’s workers.

Dairy farmer Joel Greeno, Family Farm Defenders Executive Director John Peck, and Bob St. Peter at FFD booth at MOSES conference.

At the MOSES Organic Farming conference in LaCrosse, an annual event that draws over 3,000 farmers, advocates, educators, students, we heard from farmers about challenges with dairy coops, market consolidation, support for beginning farmers and much more, and talked to hundreds of people about the common struggles facing farmers and farmworkers. We also collected signatures in support of the Family Farm DefendersLand O’Fakes campaign (sign the petition here!) and solidarity statements to bring to the Coalition of Immokalee WorkersMarch for Rights, Respect and Fair Food taking place next month, March 3-17.

And then we headed to the small town of Kendall for a work day on Joel Greeno’s dairy farm. Joel has a herd of 48 cows on 160 acres of rolling fields, and farms with his father, who is in his 70s. Joel has been farming his whole life and he loves it — but he wonders every day if he’ll be able to keep going, because, like so many dairy farmers, the price he gets paid for his milk is barely above his cost of production. Joel is an outspoken advocate for reform in the dairy industry, saying, “Farmers want to be able to provide food for their communities – but we have to be able to make a living.” Stay tuned for more of Joel’s story in the coming weeks.

Joel and Bob at the end of the workday.

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Letter of Support from Mano en Mano for Farm Labor Reality Tour

Read MiMano logolbridge, Maine-based Mano en Mano’s letter of support for the Farm Labor Reality Tour and the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s Campaign for Fair Food. Learn more about Mano en Mano by visiting their website www.manomaine.org.

Send your letter of support to bobstpeter@gmail.com and we’ll post here!

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Farm Labor Reality Tour Gets a Warm Send Off From Food AND Medicine

February 16, 2013

FAM photo 2.16.13

Thank you to our friends and allies at Food AND Medicine for hosting a press conference at the Workers Rights Center of Eastern Maine this morning to kick off the Farm Labor Reality Tour. The send-off came after a productive morning meet of FAM members who are working to make small farms viable through innovative programs like their matching EBT program at the Ohio St. Farmers Market in Bangor.

During the event, Food for Maine’s Future board member and Saving Seeds Farm manager Bob St.Peter presented FAM director Jack McKay with tomato, pepper, and onion seeds produced by FMF last season. May the seeds of our collaboration continue to grow!

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15-State Farm Labor Reality Tour Begins Today!

For Immediate Release

Farmers and Farmworkers Unite to Save America’s Small Farmers
Farm Labor Reality Tour Hits the Road to Demand Change

Brewer, Maine (February 15, 2013) – The Farm Labor Reality Tour, a two-week caravan across 15 states to unite dairy farmers and farm labors across the country in their fight for justice, dignity, and fair pay, kicked off today. Led by three grassroots organizations representing small farmers, farmworkers, and food justice activists, Family Farm Defenders, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Food for Maine’s Future, the tour aims to draw attention to the shared struggles of all people who work in America’s fields.

The people who grow food for this country – be they independent family farmers or farmworkers – are not getting paid a fair wage for their work. That has to change,” said Wisconsin dairy farmer Joel Greeno of Wisconsin-based Family Farm Defenders. The organization was inspired by the success of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ consumer-oriented “penny more per pound” Fair Food Campaign, which has won agreements for higher wages and improved working conditions from some of the biggest fast food companies in the world. Family Farm Defenders has launched a similar effort — the Land O’Fakes campaign — to change the structure of dairy pricing to ensure a fair wage for farmers. The Farm Labor Reality Tour will promote the campaigns of both groups.

Beginning in Brewer, Maine, the Farm Labor Reality Tour will head west to America’s Dairyland states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and arrive in Immokalee, Florida, on March 2 to begin a two-week, 175-mile March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food led by the CIW. The march is expected to draw together thousands of people to call on grocery giant Publix to help end farmworker exploitation and support the innovative Fair Food Program – a unique collaboration between Florida’s tomato growers, major retailers, and farmworkers, setting the standard for social accountability in the domestic produce industry by ensuring respect for farmworkers’ rights and dignity.

The tour will promote Family Farm Defenders’ Land O’Fakes campaign, which calls on consumers to demand that Land O’Lakes pay its member farmers a living wage for their milk. Land O’ Lakes is a dairy cooperative, but as one of the biggest dairy processors in the nation, it has dramatically driven down the price farmers are paid. Consumers are asked to demand that Land O’ Lakes stop manipulating dairy prices through speculative trading and stop pushing costly genetically modified hormones and seeds on their member farmers.

Tour highlights include:

February 16: Worker Rights Center of Eastern Maine, Brewer, ME. Tour kickoff, press conference featuring Food AND Medicine board member Scott Belanger, dairy farmer, cheese maker, and psychiatric nurse practitioner.

February 22-23:MOSES Organic Farming Conference, LaCrosse, WI. Representatives from Family Farm Defenders, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Food for Maine’s Future will convene a forum to discuss the conditions of farm labor in the U.S.

February 25-26: Farm labor solidarity panel discussion events, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, including farmers, students, and representatives from the Twin Cities’ co-op community.

March 3-17: CIW March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food, Immokalee-Lakeland, FL.The march will conclude at Publix Headquarters, whereCIW and allieswill again call on Publix to join the other 11 companies who have joined Fair Food Program. In March 2012, Lakeland was the site of the CIW’s six-day Fast for Fair Food.

The Farm Labor Reality Tour is coordinated by a coalition of grassroots farm labor organizations with support from WhyHunger. To get involved or join the tour, contact Bob St. Peter (contact info below).Supportive organizations are also invited to send letters of support for the tour, the Land OFakes campaign, and/or the CIW March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food.
Press Inquiries:
Farm Labor Reality Tour General Inquiries
Bob St.Peter
Food for Maine’s Future

207-244-0908
bobstpeter@gmail.com

Land O’Fakes Campaign
Joel Greeno
Family Farm Defenders

608-344-0564

March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food
Marley Moynahan
Coalition of Immokalee Workers

239-357-0393
marley@ciw-online.org

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

Family Farm Defenders

Family Farm Defenders’ mission is to create a farmer-controlled and consumer-oriented food and fiber system, based upon democratically controlled institutions that empower farmers to speak for and respect themselves in their quest for social and economic justice. To this end, FFD supports sustainable agriculture, farm worker rights, animal welfare, consumer safety, fair trade, and food sovereignty.  FFD has also worked to create opportunities for farmers to join together in new cooperative marketing endeavors and to bridge the socioeconomic gap that often exists between rural and urban communities.

Food for Maine’s Future

Food for Maine’s Future is a grassroots organization led by small farmers, farmworkers, and their patrons and supporters. Since 2006, FMF has worked on behalf of Maine people and their communities using popular education and grassroots media, community organizing, direct action, and legislative advocacy. Representing Food for Maine’s Future for the entire 4,500 mile round are board member Bob St.Peter, his wife Juliane Perry, and their two daughters. The Perry-St.Peter family rent a four-acre farm in Sedgwick, Maine, where they raise small livestock, flowers, seeds, and produce for sale from the farm and at local farmers markets. In March 2011, Sedgwick became the first of eight Maine towns to pass a Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance to help preserve small farms, cottage food businesses, and traditional farming practices. This “local food, local rules” movement has sparked efforts around the country to reform food and farm policy from the bottom-up.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a community-based, farmworker organization headquartered in Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international human rights standards. The CIW has forged an historic partnership among farmworkers, over 90% of Florida tomato growers, and eleven other leading food corporations. Together, these partners are building a new tomato industry that advances the human rights and dignity of farmworkers while enhancing the sustainability of the industry. By committing to the Fair Food Program, the 11 participating corporations agree to purchase their Florida tomatoes exclusively from growers who meet more humane labor standards, as well as to pay a penny- per-pound premium to help lift workers out of abject poverty. Gerardo Reyes Chavez of the CIW will be represent the Coalition at the farm labor forum at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference February 22-23 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Food AND Medicine

Food AND Medicine’s mission is to organize, educate, and empower workers and our communities in the fight for economic and social justice. Food AND Medicine believes that by working together with unions, farmers, community groups, small businesses, and faith-based organizations we will create solutions and positive change. Food AND Medicine has been uniting family farmers and labor since 2005. Each Thanksgiving, FAM provides hundreds of boxes of food to laid-off workers donated from local farms and businesses. At the February 16 press conference to formally kick-off the tour in Brewer, Maine FAM board member Scott Belangerwill address the difficult issue of farmer suicides and the impact on families and communities when dairy farmers are paid less than what it costs to produce their milk. Scott is a dairy farmer, cheese maker, and psychiatric nurse practitioner.

WhyHunger

WhyHunger is a leader in building the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment.Founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and current Executive Director Bill Ayres, WhyHunger works to put an end to hunger suffered by 49 million Americans and nearly 1 billion people worldwide.

 

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