Today, the NFU joins its sister organizations of La Via Campesina, the international movement of small farmers, to commemorate the 1996 massacre of 19 landless Brazilian farmers who were demanding access to land and justice. “We honor their sacrifice by relentlessly continuing our work to reclaim food systems from global corporations seeking to control food and farmers,” says Cammie Harbottle, NFU Youth President.
In Canada, the assault on farm livelihoods and family farms is the result of economic measures rather than physical violence, according to Harbottle. “With less than eight percent of Canadian farmers under the age of 35, youth in the National Farmers Union are positioned at the leading edge of change. We are ready to confront the problems endemic in Canada’s industrial model of agriculture,” she states. “As we do, we will stand in solidarity with peasant farmers around the world, today on the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles and every single day of the year. And we will celebrate the role that youth are taking in creating a better future for farmers in Canada and elsewhere.”
The NFU youth caucus recently gathered on the North Shore of Nova Scotia – “before seeds were in the ground and when there was still the luxury of staying up late into the night,” said Harbottle. There, youth talked about their farms, the price of wheat, and their favorite Berkshire pigs. Mostly, however, they talked about food sovereignty.
“Food sovereignty is rooted in providing food for people, not commodities for transnational corporations,” says Harbottle. “It is a framework favoring the wellbeing of those eating and producing the food over corporate profits – about food as a human right and not a commodity. It’s about people having the right to define their own agricultural and food systems.”
The food sovereignty framework makes sense to the NFU’s young farmers. As family farms struggle and as older farmers retire with no plans for succession, youth talked about what their farms and communities would look like in a country that valued food sovereignty.
“On our last night, we shared a meal, with each participant contributing food from their farm,” says Harbottle. “Whether it was the pork roast and the story of the pig's life and death; or the beans grown by a family for generations; or the early spinach, harvested from a Nova Scotia greenhouse; the meal was special and beautiful. Sharing our food and stories is as much a part of food sovereignty as receiving a fair price for what we produce,” she concluded.
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For more information, contact:
Cammie Harbottle, NFU Youth President (902) 657-2532
Backgrounder: NFU Youth envision the Food Sovereignty Framework in their lives
Food is for the people. Food is recognized as medicine, as a vehicle for health and wellbeing. Food is grown where the people are, and eaten at its freshest and most nutritious. Food is at the centre of community celebrations. There are no food banks, because food is a human right.
Food providers are honored.Farmers are valued by their communities and their work is seen as integral to its health. People are connected to those who grow their food, and appreciate and support farming. Farmers are proud of their vocation and are able to provide for their families by growing food for their community.
Food systems are localized. Family farms are everywhere, providing food for local communities. There is a diversity of farms in each region. Farmers work together, sharing land, equipment, and labour. Local businesses and systems are thriving.
Decisions are made locally. Those who are directly affected by decisions have a hand it making them. Food producers and consumers have autonomy over the food systems in their community. When farmers are consulted about a new policy or program, they are actuallylistened to and their input influences policies and programs.
We build knowledge and skills. Food sovereignty is included throughout the school curriculum. Children learn how to grow and process food in school.. Agricultural research is democratically controlled and accessible. We have successful apprenticeship programs and knowledge sharing networks for everything from seed saving to crop rotation.
Farming works with nature. Building healthy soil is paramount. Farms are biodiverse, soil is covered, tillage is minimal. Farms mimic natural systems, there is a holistic approach to pest management, seeds are saved and local inputs are used. Water is protected.
Food is sacred. Food is life given by the soils and landscapes that produce it. The right to food is inalienable and hunger is intolerable. We sustain life in our soil, with respect and responsibility. All people share equitably the fruits of our harvests.
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