I was privileged to be able to travel with the Wisconsin Farmers Union to the Farmers Bill of Rights rally in Storm Lake, Iowa on March 30. Members from around the state traveled together on a bus, with most of the members being from the Chippewa Valley area. 

The rally was sponsored by Family Farm Action, Iowa Farmers Union, and other farm organizations. Details and bios of the different speakers are attached to the article and included Sarah Lloyd from the Wisconsin Farmers Union (pictured above). 

The rally was in support of the Farmers Bill of Rights which includes the following nine issues:

Right to Fair, Open Markets

There must be open competition in the marketplace to buy seeds, fertilizer and other goods — and to sell produce, livestock, and meat in an open marketplace. It has become nearly impossible for independent farmers, processors, seed suppliers, mechanics, and other rural businesses to compete with multinational monopolies. We need strong anti-trust safeguards.

Right to Feed Our Community

As multi-national corporations have taken control of the food system, they have shuttered independent processing and distribution businesses locking farmers out of their local market and denying U.S. consumers local and regional foods.

Right to Fair Capital

With the loss of community and regional banks coupled with the extraction of the wealth in our rural communities by large corporations, farmers and local businesses cannot access the capital necessary to operate. We must ensure that all farmers, regardless of background, can access the credit/capital they need.

Right to Protect Our Natural Resources

If a giant corporation wants to buy up land and operate a mega-farm, they should give the same care to the soil, earth, and water as our family farmers have for generations. Corporate megafarms should have to follow reasonable standards for aquifer use, manure storage, and other land-use guidelines.

Right to Local Control of our Land

Counties and other local governments should have the ability to pass and enforce ordinances regulating the size, placement and scope of mega-farms to protect the value of family farmers’ land and the surrounding environment.

Right to Food Security

Foreign ownership hurts family farmers and raises serious national security concerns. A strict cap on foreign ownership of farms, farmland, and agribusinesses should be set to ensure our right to food security.

Right to Repair

Huge corporations and their Wall Street backers have gone so far as to prevent local businesses and farmers from fixing their own tractors and equipment, forcing them to pay corporate technicians to make all repairs. A farmer should have the right to fix his own equipment as he or she sees fit.

Right to Transparent Labeling

A farmer should be able to label their food accurately and transparently — including strong country of origin labeling standards.

Right to Rural Opportunity

Monopolies have hollowed out local economies and taken away the traditional pathways of opportunity for free enterprise that helped communities thrive. No farmer should have to choose between continuing to operate their farm and getting access to good schools and health care. No farmer should have to choose between farming and providing a future for their children. Farmers need the right to basic services in rural communities.

The rally included an appearance by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who spoke of her support for the Farmers Bill of Rights. Warren also appeared later in the day at the Heartland Forum which was also held on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. We videotaped the entire rally, including all of the speeches.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley



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