the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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As part of our effort to report more on issues shared by immigrant as well as citizen farmers

this story about indignities suffered by Basque, Maori and other herders.


Federal Appeals Court Invalidates Department of Labor Rules That Set Unfair Employment Standards for Sheep and Cattle Herders

Government Must Undertake New Rulemaking to Set Herders’ Wages and Housing Conditions

June 13, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. and foreign herders will benefit from a decision today by the D.C. Circuit to invalidate U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rules that permit employers to pay herders far less than other agricultural workers and allow lower standards for employer-provided housing, Public Citizen said.

“Today’s decision will force the DOL to reconsider the unjust employment standards that it set for sheep and cattle herders,” said Julie Murray, an attorney at Public Citizen and counsel for the plaintiffs. “It is a victory for U.S. and foreign herders alike, who toil for unconscionably low pay and are often forced to live in abysmal housing conditions.” Continue reading

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who’s behind the u.s. farmers & ranchers alliance and why it matters

US Farmer and Rancher

On Thursday, September 22, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), a new trade association made up of some of the biggest players in the food industry—including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Dupont, and Monsanto—hosted what they called “Food Dialogues” in Washington D.C., New York City, U.C. Davis, and Fair Oaks, Indiana.

The USFRA describes the Food Dialogues, and their broader multi-million dollar media campaign, as an effort to amplify the voice of farmers and ranchers and help consumers know more about “how their food is grown and raised.”

Sounds good, on first blush.

Most of us are in the dark when it comes to the story of our food. And, farmers and ranchers—the people working hard every day to bring us our food—are nearly invisible in mainstream media. But dig into the Alliance’s membership, and its impetus for forming, and you start to wonder whether it truly represents the voices of grassroots food producers or whether this well-funded media campaign is agribusinesses latest attempt to push back against well-documented and well-publicized concerns about the environmental and health consequences of industrial agriculture.

When I asked a rep from Ketchum—the public relations firm hired by the Alliance—what motivated these groups to come together, without skipping a beat, he answered: Food, Inc. and movies like it. “People see Food, Inc.,” he said, “And think everything in that movie is accurate.” But, he continued, the film only presents one side of the issue and USFRA members feel they didn’t “have a voice in it.” Now, as the Ketchum rep put it, USFRA wants to “clear the air” and “get a national dialogue, a conversation, going.”

Click here to read more of this Civil Eats article—>

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landworkers’ alliance protests in london

Yesterday (April 17th) 100 farmers and growers from the Landworkers’ Alliance travelled to London from around the country to protest outside the head offices of DEFRA and the National Farmers Union.

Under the leadership of Owen Patterson over the past two years, DEFRA has strengthened its support of large-scale industrial agriculture and marginalized smaller producers, while the NFU has consistently lobbied for the interests of agribusiness and ignored the views of smaller farmers.

The land workers’ Alliance want to see small-scale producers put at the heart of decision making in agricultural policy.

“DEFRA needs to recognise the role of small-scale producers in contributing to the national food economy, as well as the environmental and social services provided by these producers,” says Ed Hamer from the LWA.  “As a matter of urgency we demand that DEFRA create policies conducive to a sustainable food future for all.”

The demonstration took place in solidarity with the April 17th – The International Day of Peasant Struggles. A global day of action called by La Via Campesina, the international union of peasant farmers which has over 200 million members worldwide.

Small farmers' demo outside DEFRA offices

(Above) The Landworkers’ Alliance catch minister for agriculture (Owen Patterson) in bed with agribusiness.

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need your comments: new fda rules may cut ties between brewers and farmers.

Comment HERE. The public comment period ends Monday, March 31st! 

From the Bangor Daily News:

America’s booming brewing industry and farmers alike are bothered and befuddled by a proposed U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule change that could alter a partnership that dates back to Neolithic times.

To the farmer, spent grains are a valuable dietary supplement for their livestock. It’s common for breweries to reach out to local farms to offer up their spent grains as animal feed. Most often, farmers are happy to oblige, picking up the spent grains themselves a few times per week. Little or no money exchanges hands during these deals. Brewers are glad to get rid of the grain, and farmers are glad to take it off their hands.

The proposed rule is aimed at “ensuring the safety of animal food for animals consuming the food and ensuring the safety of animal food for humans handling the food, particularly pet food,” according to the FDA.

It requires facilities producing animal food to have written plans that identify hazards, specify steps to minimize those hazards, and monitor and record the safety of the feed.

“FDA understands that many breweries and distilleries sell spent grains … as animal food. Because those spent grains are not alcoholic beverages themselves, and they are not in a prepackaged form that prevents any direct human contact with the food, the Agency tentatively concludes that subpart C of this proposed rule would apply to them,” according to the FDA rule.

Most small and medium-sized brewers wouldn’t be able to follow these rules without significant investment. Breweries that want to send their spent grains to farmers would have to dry, package and analyze the grains, all without it touching human hands. These efforts would cost brewers money, time and resources, making it too much of a hassle for some to continue partnerships with farmers, according to critics. (Read the entire article —> HERE)

Comments are needed HERE!

To view the complete rule, visit

For the FDA fact sheet on the rule, visit






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are you joining the beyond the farm bill conversation?

via The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.  And visit Beyond the Farm

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 11.29.22 AM
Register for the National Network meeting and help build food and ag policies that work.

March 24–25, 2014
The Marquette Hotel, Minneapolis

Next month, innovative experts and organizations will come together for a two day, collaborative meeting to build the “blueprint” for food and agriculture policies that are fair, healthy, and sustainable on all levels. Continue reading

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a note from GMO free new york


Greetings to all Endorsers of the NY GE Food Labeling Campaign!

If you’re here in NY with me, I hope you’re all surviving the Arctic tundra we’ve seemingly turned into. More snow predicted for NYC Wed night! :-(
[I apologize for not emailing each of you individually -- there simply aren't enough hours in the day and this message is too urgent. I also apologize in advance if you're already been asked to take this action by someone else in the NY GE Food Labeling Campaign or if you wind up with another email from me because you're in my MailChimp database.]
The time has come for me to cash in my goodwill chips. We need EVERYONE to send out an action alert ASAP for New Yorkers to contact their district legislators (we don’t want calls/emails coming from non-constituents and out-of-staters). Bill A.3525 (Rosenthal)/S.3835 (LaValle) is likely coming up for its first committee vote in the Assembly at the end of this month. Not coincidentally, yesterday the New York Farm Bureau launched its attack on the bill with its own action alert targeting the 30,000+ farmers in its membership. (You can read the misinformation-filled letter here: Continue reading

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solidarity with farm workers and food workers

Check out this just-released video produced by the Family Farm Defenders, chronicling the recent Farm Labor Reality Tour, which saw the unique coming together of small farmers, food workers, and farmworkers in a 6,500-mile journey across the US. It is especially poignant as we remember the powerful and lasting legacy left by John Kinsman, who is featured in this film. For the final leg of the epic trip, Family Farm Defenders, Food For Maine’s Future, and members of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ 200-mile March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food.

Take a minute to watch it, here:

Also, below is a web post by Just Harvest USA, which provides some context and links to other great articles on the interrelated struggles of family farmers and farmworkers.

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news from food democracy now

This is one of the most important emails that we will ever send. We’ve been hearing rumors about this for months, but Monsanto and the GMA have made their move.

Two days ago, Food Democracy Now! received an unpublished copy of Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s (GMA) secret plan to try to sneak in a toothless piece of legislation that would eliminate federal mandatory GMO labeling, give the illusion of serious regulation, usurp states’ rights to pass similar bills and call for “voluntary” labeling of GMOs based on fraudulent criteria.

The 5-page document details the 7 main provisions of the proposed bill and contains 3 pages of Monsanto and GMA talking points that outline their secret plan to undermine states’ rights, subverting both democracy and the will of the people, 90% of whom support GMO labeling. Continue reading

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history lesson: the M.S.T. (landless peasants movement)

who will soon be celebrating their big anniversary.

Brazil’s Landless Worker’s Movement was born from the concrete, isolated struggles for land that rural workers were developing in southern Brazil at the end of the 1970′s. Brazil was going through a politically opening process towards the end of the military regime. Brazilian capitalism was not able to alleviate the existing contradictions that blocked progress in the countryside. Continue reading

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mesoamerica resiste!

The latest from the Beehive Collective! Support the project HERE

It’s done, it’s done!!! We can’t wait for you to see our newest illustration!

Help us print Mesoamérica Resiste, the long-awaited final graphic in an epic trilogy about globalization in the Americas. Now that the illustration is complete, we need your support to be able to share this ambitious project far and wide. Continue reading

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10 senators in favor of GMO labeling



Fairfield, IA – November 10, 2013– The Truth in Labeling Coalition today released their TREMENDOUS TEN list of women in the Senate who support labeling of genetically engineered food. The WOMEN IN THE SENATE campaign, spearheaded by Former Congressman Jim Bates, is aimed at having the 20 women Senators sign a letter to President Barack Obama, requesting that he use his executive power to require the Food and Drug Administration to correct their mistake from 1992, when it exempted genetically engineered food from labeling.  Bates submitted a Citizens Petition in

2010, asking the Food and Drug Administration to close the loophole created in 1992, when Vice President Dan Quayle announced the exemption of genetically engineered food from labeling as a ‘deregulatory effort.’  Bates does not believe that legislation is necessary to mandate labeling of food made from genetically engineered corn, soy, canola, cotton and sugar beets.  “We don’t need to pass anything!  Genetically engineered food should never have been exempted from labeling!”

The TREMENDOUS TEN are “promoting transparency for consumers while providing producers with the certainty they need to label their products appropriately.”   The premise of the campaign is expressed by the sentiments of Senator Kay Hagan: “Women have a tendency to work in partnerships, and that is something I think the American people would really appreciate us doing.”


Senator Barbara Mikulski D-MD
Senator Dianne Feinstein D-CA
Senator Barbara Boxer D-CA
Senator Patty Murray D-WA
Senator Mary Landrieu D-LA
Senator Susan Collins R-ME
Senator Lisa Murkowski R-AK
Senator Jeanne Shaheen D-NH
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand D-NY
Senator Elizabeth Warren D-MA

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euro greens and shiva joint petition

*European Greens and Vandana Shiva launch joint petition on seed legislation *

Brussels- October 2 , 2013.  Today, on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday the European Greens together with Navdanya, the organization of Indian activist and scientist Vandana Shiva  launch a petition on the new legislative proposal of the European Commission on the production and commercialization of seeds.

The proposal by the EC was launched in May and is now going through the legislative process in the European Parliament.  Via the website the Greens and Navdanya want to mobilize citizens to ask for a radical change of this proposed legislation. The central message of the website is that this new European legislation on the ‘Marketing of seeds’ is a threat to Food Security and Democracy. Continue reading


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