In the late 1970s, grain prices were significantly down, farms auctioned at record numbers, and seemingly, people had forgotten how their food got to the table. Grocery stores magically had an abundance of food. I was a youngster then, but I remember asking my then four-year-old nephew where milk came from. He responded, “the refrigerator.” On February 5, 1979, in protest of lower prices and lack of understanding, there was a tractor protest march on Washington, DC. They stayed through blizzard conditions, with the result being families began to notice the importance of farms and farming. Laws took longer to catch up, and when they did, they went in the direction of building Big Ag. However, the bold heritage of farmers still exists. We see this in the proliferation of farmer protests around the world.  

My colleague in India brought to my attention that in India, farmers are not farming. Despite being tear-gassed, shot at with water cannons, and bone-chilling temperatures, the farmers are sitting quietly by the roadside and marching in peaceful protests against their government. They assert that hastily written, divisive farm bills have suppressed their voices, are unjust and passed without farmers’ input. On November 26, over 250 million Indians joined the farmers in protest, asserting rising prices and lower wages drive hunger and other poverty-related issues (thewire.in). 

In solidarity, as suicide and bankruptcies increase worldwide amongst farmers, generations of farmers and farmworkers in North America join together. Latino partners liken the situation to when NAFTA destroyed the rural Mexican economy.  

Every citizen in every community affects the food system through their food choices and their support of local, small scale farms. Healthy, sustainable farms are the basis of healthy communities. Multi-generational strategies create vibrant economies and self-sufficiency. They must include fair negotiations, partnerships between communities and farms, culturally sound responses with policies and programs which fairly compensate farmers. Such strategies ensure better outcomes in all directions, including wealth of health, education, housing, and food security. When people come together at state and local policy-making levels, and have honest, open communication, they are a force of change for the better. 

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