La Via Campesina has declared April 17, 2014 to be the International Day of Farmer and Peasant Struggles in Defence of Farmers’ and Peasants’ Seeds. In solidarity with farmers and peasants around the world, the National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on all Canadians to join us as we call for a new Seed Act for Farmers. A Seed Act for Farmers would recognize the inherent rights of farmers – derived from thousands of years of custom and tradition – to save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds.
Seeds have a fundamental place in the struggle for food sovereignty. Whoever controls our seeds controls our food. Not only are seeds the source of food to feed the world’s people, they also carry within them the vision, the knowledge, the practices and the culture of farming communities. Through a Seed Act for Farmers, Canada can enshrine in legislation the inalienable right of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds.
The NFU‘s Fundamental Principles of a Farmers Seed Act are available http://www.nfu.ca/issue/fundamental-principles-farmers-seed-act.
By calling for a Seed Act for Farmers, the NFU is also asking Parliament to refrain from making any changes to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act or to the Seeds Act through Bill C- 18, the Agricultural Growth Act, which is currently before Parliament.
What Can You Do?
Ø On April 17, email or phone your MP with the following message – “This spring, as farmers and gardeners once again sow the seeds which will become the food we eat over the coming year, I am asking you as my elected representative to protect our seeds by working for a Seed Act for Farmers. Today, I am making this request in solidarity with farmers and peasants across the world who are working to protect the seeds that enable us to have a healthy, diverse agriculture and to adapt to a changing climate. For more information on what must be included in a Seed Act for Farmers, please visit the website of the National Farmers Union at www.nfu.ca.”
Ø You can find the contact information for your MP at www.parl.gc.ca. Copy the message to the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Gerry Ritz at firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the NDP Ag Critic, Malcolm Allen at email@example.com, Liberal Ag Critic, Mark Eyking at firstname.lastname@example.org and Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May at email@example.com
Ø Celebrate the spring season and the diversity of seeds, by planting seeds on April 17 in your garden, your flowerbed, your field or your window sill.
Ø Share some seeds with your MP, either through the mail or during a visit to the MP’s office. Invite your MP to also celebrate the wonder of seeds to produce food, to sustain communities and to enhance biodiversity when they remain in the hands of farmers and gardeners.
Ø Learn more about the NFU‘s A Seed Act for Farmers, Not Corporations – Stop Bill C-18 campaign at www.nfu.ca/issues/stop-bill-c-18.
Ø Share this message with your family, your friends and your community.
Ø Write a letter to the editor of your community paper about why Canada needs a Seed Act for Farmers.
The National Farmers Union is a direct-membership, non-partisan national farm organization, founded in 1969. The NFU is unique among farm organizations in working for people’s interests against corporate control of our food system. The NFU advocates for policies which move us towards the principles of food sovereignty – healthy food, ecological sustainability and democratic control. To learn more about the NFU visit www.nfu.ca.
La Via Campesina is a global movement of family farmer/peasant, indigenous and rural worker organizations working together to resist global trade agreements, to stop the destruction of communities, cultures and environments, and to build an alternative – food sovereignty. The NFU is a founding member of La Via Campesina. To learn more about La Via Campesina visit www.viacampesina.org.
Why is April 17 the International Day of Farmer and Peasant Struggle? On April 17, 1996, 19 Brazilian landless peasants, who were part of a demonstration asking for access to land, were assassinated by military police in the Eldorado dos Carajas massacre. In their memory, La Via Campesina has declared April 17 to be the International Day of Farmer and Peasant Struggle.
In calling for action on April 17, the National Farmers Union is asking our members and supporters to stand in solidarity with the farmers and peasants in Canada, and across the globe, who are struggling against government policies and agribusiness practices which treat food as a commodity, farmers as expendable and land, seeds, water and animals as resources to be exploited for corporate profits. We are asking you to stand in solidarity with the NFU and La Via Campesina in our support for food sovereignty which “articulates the crucial importance of local and sustainable food production, respect for human rights, fair food and agricultural prices, fair trade between countries and the safeguarding of commons against privatization”. (The Jakarta Call, La Via Campesina, June 20, 2013)
In the words of La Via Campesina – Globalize the Struggle! Globalize Hope!
National Farmers Union, 2717 Wentz Avenue, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 4B6 306-652-9465 firstname.lastname@example.org www.nfu.ca