Farmers and Farm Families are the 99%
Farm families and people in farm communities know first-hand the devastating effects of corporate greed and a government run by the few for the few: corporations make ag policy, rig prices, dictate the terms of borrowing and lending, and churn out patented seeds and dangerous chemicals without giving any thought to what all of this is doing to our farms, our families, or our communities. While farmers and their spouses work multiple jobs off the farm to make ends meet, executives at Big Agribusiness companies, bankers, and bought-and-sold politicians are gambling with people’s homes, farms, and well-being. And while these fat-cats, most of whom have never dirtied their hands or set foot between the furrows, go on getting richer and richer, farm families struggle to hang on and often rely on Medicaid and other imperiled government programs for healthcare and other basic needs. Farmers and their families are the 99%, and it’s time we all stand together and fight back against greed, fraud, and injustice, from Manhattan, New York to Manhattan, Kansas, Des Moines to downtown Boston, the Willamette Valley to Washington, D.C.
Farmers and farms have seen a lot of hard times in recent decades. They’ve been coerced into dependence on giant corporations like Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Tyson. And though family farmers are by necessity and conviction committed to sustainability, they exist today in a system designed to reward speculators and huge agribusiness companies, not the honest and decent work of raising food and fiber. It’s a system that doesn’t tolerate innovation or experimentation with sustainable methods of production, old or new. It doesn’t reward responsible tending of the land or taking care to keep poisons out of our rivers and streams. Instead, this system is designed so that the few may profit at the expense of the many, and the few who profit the most have no interest in the land or rural communities.
We believe the Occupy movement must connect people in cities to people in small towns and the countryside. Farmers, farm workers, and their neighbors in rural places are the 99%. Our mission is to connect the rural and the urban, coastal and middle America. The struggles of working people are the same, whether it’s a service worker in a coastal city, a factory worker in the Midwest, or a cotton farmer in Georgia. We’re all feeling the effects of corporate greed, bad policy, and economic injustice. It’s time we all start pulling together. Companies like Monsanto and DuPont with their swarms of lawyers are patenting life and intend to corner the market. A handful of multinationals control the commodities markets and pull strings at all levels of government to make sure they get all the subsidies and tax breaks they need to go on making money on the backs of farming families and rural communities. Rural communities are being squeezed, and we can’t wait for somebody else to step up and do something about it.
Corporate dominion over the economic lives of farmers parallels the corporate dominion over the economic lives of factory workers and victims of illegal foreclosure. The same injustice, greed, and fraud that has energized the Occupy movement in cities and towns around the globe is present in the world of factory farms and Big Ag. Farmers and people in farming communities have known for a long time that there’s something wrong with all of this, that there doesn’t seem to be any justice or decency in this system. It’s time for family farmers to raise their voices with the working people in the cities, to stand together and demand justice for all working people. Farmers are the 99%. We are the 99%.
Occupy the Farm wants to make the connections that we often fail to make because we seem to have different ways of doing things or simply because we’re far from one another. We share the same economic interests and have all felt the hardship brought down upon working people by bankers and executives in expensive suits and their bargain-priced politicians who pretend to care about working families and the land but are eager to gamble with our homes, our farms, and our communities. Farmers need to know that the Occupy movement stands with them in their defense of a way of life. We know that family farms are producers not only of food and fiber but also of a set of ideals and values that are as vital to America as the bread we eat and the shirts on our backs. Let’s stand with family farmers and rural communities. They’re the 99%, and we can all work together to take this country back from Big Ag, Big Money, and Bought Government. Get on the bus. Join us. Help us Occupy the Farm.