Race and Corporate Power in the US Food System: Examining the Farm Bill

Elsadig Elsheikh | 06.06.2016

Click here to download this Backgrounder in full.

In nearly every aspect—socially, economically, politically, and environmentally—the US food system is characterized by widespread inequity.

This inequity, however, is not inevitable, but is orchestrated and perpetuated by structural racialization and corporate power. The US food system not only suffers from widespread racial/ethnic, class, and gender disparities but is also a reflection of a society that produces inequity in every domain of life.

Inequity within the food system, such as limited access to nutritious and affordable food, income disparities for food and farm workers, or racial/ethnic disparities in accessing land cannot be addressed without addressing inequality within society as a whole, including low income and limited employment benefits, unfair treatment of people of color by state and federal institutions, and limited access to positions of power.

Therefore, a major concern is the nexus of marginality and “othering” perpetuated by corporate power and structural racialization within the US food system and society as a whole.

To challenge and eliminate corporate power and structural racialization in the US food system and society as a whole, we need to analyze the ways that public and private institutions are structured – including the Farm Bill, and how government programs are administered and operated in a way that marginalize low-income communities and communities of color.

About this special series:

This Backgrounder is the second in a multi-authored series on “Dismantling Racism in the Food System.” In this series we seek to uncover the structural foundations of racism in the food system and highlight the ways people, communities, organizations and social movements are dismantling the attitudes, institutions and structures that hold racism in place. Food First is convinced that to end hunger and malnutrition we must end injustices in the food system. Dismantling the injustices of racism in the food system, in the food movement, in our organizations and among ourselves is fundamental to transforming the food system and our society.

Food First invites contributions on this topic from authors engaged in research and community action to dismantle racism in the food system. Different aspects of the topic can include land, labor, finance, food access, nutrition, food justice and food sovereignty organizations.

Click here to download this Backgrounder in full.