A Farmer’s Right to Grow
As a farmer, I know that our society does not value the people who grow the food on our tables. I am committed to fighting the big corporations that control our farming system and to creating a new system that provides a dignified living for all farmers and values our land.
Break up Big Ag
Everything in agriculture — from seeds to fertilizers, pesticides to livestock, feed to slaughterhouses — is controlled by a handful of corporations. To make sure we have good jobs and sustainable practices, we must take this enormous and ever-growing control out of the hands of mega corporations like Bayer-Monsanto. We will break up Big Ag through anti-trust laws. We will put a moratorium on any new mergers. And we will work to end the modern day version of the share-cropping system, in which farmers are rented equipment and supplies including the very animals they tend, accumulate all risk for their endeavors, and pay the profits back to big corporations.
Defend the Right to Make a Living
Farmers deserve to be able to live off their wages. For this to happen, we have to transition out of a system that gambles with food production and treats our nation’s farms like investments for rich people.
Instead, we must enact a supply-management program that guarantees crop prices. We will establish a federal supply reserve: a holding place for food grown on a bumper year. On those bumper years, the food is publicly bought at a fair price, one that covers production costs and living expenses for farmers. On a scarce year, the food is made available so that everyone can afford to eat. We will even out the market and guarantee both living wages for farmers and food security for the nation.
End Predatory Lawsuits
We will work alongside growers and seed-savers to ensure we have a food future that is not owned by Bayer-Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, and Syngenta. We will fight back against predatory lawsuits brought by these corporations against farmers who use their seeds in multiple plantings. And we will invest in diversification of our seed bank as part of a climate resiliency plan under the Green New Deal.
Right to Repair
Farmers aren’t just known for growing all of our food. We’re also famous for their ability to fix just about anything. Right now, corporations prevent farmers from repairing tractors that farmers own. That ain’t right, and I pledge to fight for laws that let farmers fix what we need to and get back to feeding the nation.
The Green New Deal: Conservation and Land Management
As we transition our economy to cope with climate change, we must utilize our public lands as infrastructure to support communities: communities of people as well as ecological communities. We will expand public land trusts and access to federal land for sustainable agricultural growing. We must be explicitly anti-racist in our work and center communities of color in access to land trusts. We will also increase conservation stewardship programs and engage growers to participate in these programs.
We will also build Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programs. The CCC has a history of caring for and providing accessibility to our natural spaces. We want to grow that vision to include investment in areas along rivers and streams and other wildlife sites as well as urban park development and maintenance. CCC programs can and will offer a good job with a living wage to people from all backgrounds and will coordinate directly with unions to ensure the CCC is bolstering locals rather than displacing any work.
End Food Insecurity, Eat Local
Food security is a human right. In addition to stabilizing the national food supply, we will develop local food resilience to make sure every community eats well. We will invest in local agriculture from farm to table. We will re-invest in programs like 4H and new farmer networks. We will develop community processing and distribution centers to make it easier for growers to get their produce to markets. And we will incentivize contracts for locally grown food to go directly to those who can benefit from it most: our public schools and local hospitals.
Grow More Organic
As we grow in best practices of production and processing, we must continue to strengthen organic standards to ensure the highest quality products and the safest working conditions. At the same time, we must ensure that organic certification is available and accessible to all sizes of growers. We propose organic transition programs be available to small and medium size growers which include mentorship, transitional case management, and grant-funded opportunities.
Healthcare for Our Farmers
Farmers shouldn’t be dying of despair — from suicide, drugs and alcohol.
Under Medicare For All, we will guarantee the right to healthcare to every farm, farm worker, and family member. This includes the right to mental health care as well as behavioral care. Substance abuse is a public health concern, not a personal failing. The opioid crisis has hit farmers and rural people so hard, and those who made money off of that suffering should be held directly accountable.
We will invest in and reinvigorate the National Labor Relations Board to end misclassification of workers, including farm workers. And, under Medicare for All, we will guarantee that every person living in the United States has the right to see a doctor of their choice when injured on the job, without the cost of that care being passed onto the worker or their community.
Make Farm Banking Practices Fair
It is essential that we work to prevent farm bankruptcies. We demand that disaster coverage be available to small and medium sized farmers, like it is to large growers. We will hold banks accountable for any discriminatory practice. We will incentivize the development of cooperatives and credit unions in areas where banks are not helping farmers.
Support Farmers of Color
The history of farming in the United States is fraught with systemic racism, to remove people of color, especially indigenous people and Black people, from their land. This practice continues to this day.
Even now, Black farmers are systemically excluded from programs that benefit other growers, from access to land and financing to technology and market access. We will work to root out the racist policies and practices that exist within the USDA. We will create programs that prevent family-owned land from being disinherited in Black and indigenous communities. For far too long, our federal policies have had the opposite effect. Specifically, we will update and give stronger teeth to the Endangered Black Farmer Act of 2007. We will support the opportunity to re-enfranchise our Black farming families through reparations.
We must uphold our commitments to first Americans by strengthening tribal sovereignty. We will oppose projects that threaten to damage, break up or in any way steal tribal lands. We will ensure that the Green New Deal Federal Jobs Guarantee Program centers the restoration of Native communities.