West Coast Grange Wars:
A Reborn Farmers’ Movement Takes on Corporate Agriculture
By John Collins, Rural America In These Times
As more and more grocery shoppers refuse to write-off the origins of their food as some unsolvable whodunit, a network of sustainability minded, locally oriented farmers are working to connect those people to calories from known sources. For such farmers, and those in the communities that support them, the local Grange is a well-established ally.
Jay Sexton is Master at Mary’s River Grange #685 in Philomath, Oregon. A member of that Grange for six years, he is also the current director of the Oregon State Grange Agriculture Committee, working to advance Grange policies and promote agriculture awareness. Reminding the general public that we all depend on agriculture for the food we eat has been no small part of the organization’s mission for the last 148 years.
“The Grange has an interesting history,” says Sexton, “not just with the ups and downs of membership, but with how closely it’s been tied to big agriculture.”
In recent years, a rift has emerged between some state and local Granges and the national organization. New farmers with progressive ideas regarding the future of agriculture—organic farming practices, an end to the use of GMOs, environmentally beneficial land use—are clashing with the National Grange over its support of industrial agribusiness.
Like many advocacy organizations headquartered in Washington D.C., the National Grange is politically cautious. In the Beltway, severing ties with large, technology-driven farming operations—biting the hand that feeds—is a tough sell.
“Grange policy is very clear in that we support all of agriculture,” says Ed Lutrell, president of the National Grange. “We believe that production agriculture is important to the world—it’s feeding millions of people. Local, small-market agriculture is equally as important because what the American consumer is demanding is locally grown, wholesome, safe food. We’re in complete support of that process as well.”
But those active in the new farming movement, keenly aware of the environmental perils of BigAg and champions of a wacky notion that places sustainability ahead of profit, could not care less about being cautious.
Neither could many Grangers who came before them. Continue full article here.