I’m in Ankeny, Iowa the first USDA-DOJ “Public Hearings Exploring Competition in Agriculture”. We’re at the FFA building at Des Moines Community College, and as you walk in the building you see a large sign in the atrium welcoming you to the “Monsanto Center for Biotech Education” – so we’re not on our home court here, but we have some numbers. The farmers were here early waiting in the cold to get in the door and we have the clustered front and center. As we mill about waiting for the session to begin David Runyan, Moe Parr, Scott McCallister (all three harassed or sued by Monsanto) and Harvey Howington (rice producer contaminated by Liberty Link) have all been sharing their stories with media and each other. The room is said to hold 400, and with another hour before it begins it’s clear that there will be standing room only. Rooms are set up with TV monitors for the overflow. There’s a large contingency of representatives from the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) union – and they were very vocal at last night’s town hall meeting regarding the impact that retailers like Walmart have to push down contract prices and costs that hurt everyone from the clerks, to the processors, millers, and of course farmers themselves. It’s clear that concentration in seed, dairy, beef cattle, poultry, processing, and retail all work together to undermine the viability and success of family farms. These people are fighting not only for their livelihoods but for their lives, their communities, and their sense of moral justice. More as the day goes on.
OSA Board Member and Farmer Fred Kirschenmann, seed cleaner Moe Parr, and Indiana Farmer David Runyon.