Now Let’s Connect the Dot Between the Forces of Neoliberalism that Stifle Farmers, from India to the U.S.

A solidarity statement for the brave and historic protests in India from farmers, agroecology and food justice networks in the U.S. 

“We are not going back — that is not in our genetic code. Agriculture has turned into a slow poison. It’s better to die fighting here.” — Ringhu Yaspal, a protestor in Ghazipur, India.

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Seeds of Resilience

U.S. farmers and allied food justice advocates express our solidarity with the farmer protests in India against the unjust farm laws that will increase agribusiness’ stranglehold over their food system. India’s farmers have mobilized to create one of the world’s most vibrant protests in history, camping on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months. Their rallying cry is to repeal the three unjust laws that were passed without their knowledge or consultation. We extend our solidarity to countless farmers who are peacefully and boldly standing up for their rights and dignity, with other farmers from across the globe

One of the key demands of the movement is for farmers to receive a Minimum Support Price (MSP)—currently assured for just a few crops—for all produce, including vegetables, which are essential for healthy diets. This would ensure that farmers in India, already burdened by huge debts, receive a fair price for their produce. MSP is the price at which the Indian government also buys staple grains, like wheat and rice, from farmers for its public food programs so that the poor can access subsidized grains. While the Indian government only procures a small percentage for its food programs, the MSP is a key price signal to other traders in India, and it ensures that farmers receive a fair price for these specific crops.[1] 

We recognize the role of the U.S. government in creating the conditions that have led to these repressive laws. The U.S. has been a key opponent of India’s limited use of MSP at the World Trade Organization. The U.S., with Australia, Canada, and European allies, has claimed that India’s MSP distorts trade. 

But, that is not surprising: the U.S. government has been eroding the concept of parity (similar to MSP in India) at home for decades. There is an opportunity for the Biden Administration to shift U.S. trade policy to allow other countries to support fair markets for their farmers and to shift agricultural policy to ensure that our food providers make a living wage. 

While the U.S. agricultural sector receives inordinately large support compared to many countries, access to that support remains inequitable. In particular, Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian-Pacific and other people of color producers, who lack secure land tenure and are concentrated in vegetable and small-scale cattle sectors, have been excluded historically.   Support flows to larger agribusiness farming operations instead of the independent family farmers whose voices we amplify.

Let us be clear: what the Indian farmers are enduring now happened in the U.S. almost four decades ago. The Reagan era furthered the farm crisis through deliberate federal policy changes, with systematic erosion of parity prices and other deregulatory efforts. “Get big or get out” has been our government’s mantra. Farmers with the means to consolidate have been rewarded for growing monoculture commodities. Small farmers and others who shifted to diversified agroecological farming practices have effectively been subsidizing the U.S. agriculture sector: it is rare for these food producers to make a living without supplemental income. Unsurprisingly, farm suicides in rural America are 45% higher than the rest of the population. 

The WTO has indeed worsened an already unequal playing field between the Global South and Global North. What every nation-state can do, at the very least, is to protect small farmers from deregulatory efforts, such as the three farm laws in India, that diminish the limited bargaining power that farmers have, pushing them off their farms. In the U.S. it is said that the previous administration’s  agenda, “focused primarily around deregulation and increasing aid to commodity farmers while cutting food aid to needy families, [which] will have long-lasting implications.”

The Biden-Harris administration is off to a promising start, yet much work remains to be done on parity, environmental, and racial justice in relation to food and agricultural policy domestically as well as internationally. The U.S. government must stop prioritizing the interests of their agribusiness over small farmers, abetting further corporatization of the food system here and in other countries. The U.S. must also endorse multilateral governance norms that will support India’s transition to climate-resilient, biodiverse, and water-conserving food systems that reaches all producers. This would also mean harmonizing trade rules to include parity pricing and public crop procurement. 

We urge both governments to support independent family farmers and localized food systems, ensuring not just food sovereignty but also securing the livelihoods of millions in India who are the bedrock of its food security and nutritional wellbeing.

Statement Endorsed By:

  1. A Growing Culture
  2. Abanitu Organics
  3. AFGE Local 3354
  4. Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network
  5. Agricultural Justice Project
  6. Agroecology Commons
  7. Agroecology Research-Action Collective
  8. Alabama State Association of Cooperatives
  9. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
  10. Alliance for Progressive South Asians (Twin Cities)
  11. American Sustainable Business Council
  12. Americana World Community Center
  13. Ancestor Energy
  14. Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD Georgia
  15. Black Farmers & Ranchers New Mexico/National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association
  16. Buttermilk Falls CSA
  17. Center for Regional Agriculture Food and Transformation
  18. CoFED
  19. Community Agroecology Network
  20. Community Alliance for Global Justice
  21. Community Alliance with Family Farmers
  22. Community Farm Alliance
  23. Community Food and Justice Coalition
  24. Compassionate Action for Animals
  25. Disparity to Parity
  26. Earth Ethics Action
  27. East Michigan Environmental Action Council/Cass Commons
  28. Echo Valley Hope
  29. Ecologistas en Acción
  30. Ecosocialist Working Group, International Committee, Democratic Socialists of America
  31. Fair World Project
  32. Family Farm Action Alliance
  33. Family Farm Defenders
  34. Farm Aid
  35. Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
  36. Farmers On The Move
  37. Farmworker Association of Florida
  38. Ground Operations
  39. Health of Mother Earth Foundation
  40. i4Farmers
  41. Imagining Transnational Solidarities Research Circle
  42. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  43. Institute for Earthbound Studies
  44. Just Transition Alliance
  45. Land Core
  46. National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association
  47. National Family Farmers Coalition
  48. Natures Wisdom
  49. NC Climate Justice Collective
  50. NeverEndingFood
  51. North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project
  52. Northeast Organic Farming Association — Vermont
  53. Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter
  54. Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council
  55. OPEIU 39
  56. Peoples Architecture Commonwealth
  57. Pesticide Action Network North America
  58. Philadelphia Community farm
  59. Real Food Media
  60. Regenerative Organic Alliance
  61. Regenerative Rising
  62. Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA
  63. Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecropper Fund
  64. Rural Coalition
  65. Rural Development Leadership Network
  66. Rural Vermont
  67. Safe Food and Feed Foundation
  68. Santa Cruz Permaculture
  69. Science for the People
  70. Science for the People — Twin Cities
  71. Seeds for All
  72. Shaping Change Collaborative
  73. Sierra Club-USA
  74. Southeastern African-American Farmers’ Organic Network
  75. Steward Foundation
  76. Texas Drought Project
  77. The Carbon Underground
  78. United People Community Organization, Market, and Farms
  79. University of MN Food Recovery Network
  80. Uprooted & Rising
  81. US Food Sovereignty Alliance
  82. Utopia Cornucopia
  83. Vision for Change Foundation
  84. Vitis and Ovis Farm
  85. Washington Biotechnology Action Council
  86. Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
  87. Women’s Environmental Institute