News and Views Summer 2019: Farmers Union, Climate Justice, and Tunisian Food Sovereignty
Wisconsin is ground zero in the struggle for the existence of the family dairy farm in the United State. Over the last 50 years, the US has lost over 600,000 dairy farms due to oversupply, low prices and industrial concentration. The family dairy farm is fast being replaced by automated mega-farms in which thousands of confined animals live short, overworked lives in an intensive production model that contributes massively to greenhouse gasses.
So, it was a wonderful surprise to us this January, when we attended the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) annual convention in Appleton, WI and found a diverse gathering of over 500 farmers and their families not just facing the hard realities of US agriculture, but celebrating life, farming, and the joy of being together. We shared meals, sang songs, honored elders and heard from the youth. For nearly 90 years, this member driven organization has worked for farm justice by “enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, rural communities, and all people through educational opportunities, cooperative endeavors, and civic engagement.” There were dozens of workshops and many conversations on everything from climate change and farm resiliency, to social diversity, and rural mental health. We learned that fair prices, supply management, an end to CAFOs and major social investments in the countryside are all solid planks in the WFU platform for rural transformation.
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