Haaland Affirms Rights of Family Farmers, Ranchers, Tribal & Traditional Agricultural Communities

February 6, 2020
Press Release
U.S. Senator Booker, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree join the fight for America’s Farmers

Bill Text (PDF) | One Pager (PDF) | Press Conference Video

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (NM-01) affirmed the rights of independent family farmers, ranchers, and traditional agricultural communities at a press conference to introduce the groundbreaking Farmers Bill of Rights. The resolution outlines ten basic rights for family farmers and ranchers. Over the last several decades the concentration of power in the hands of the few multinational corporations has eroded these fundamental rights. All farmers, ranchers, Native Nations, acequia communities and historically underrepresented farmers, have a right to fair and equal opportunity. 

“Family farmers are largely responsible for sustainable practices and uplifting rural communities, but the decks are stacked against them, because large corporate farms are sucking up all the resources and blocking them from prosperity. Our Farmers Bill of Rights is the radical idea that we owe family farmers and ranchers, tribes, and traditional communities basic rights. This Farmers Bill of Rights is a commitment to leveling the playing field and giving control of our most precious resources back to the folks who grow our food and keep our families health,” said Rep. Haaland.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is the lead sponsor of the U.S. Senate companion to the Farmers Bill of Rights.

“Corporate consolidation in the agriculture sector is causing serious harm to our rural communities,” said Sen. Booker. “We need to level the playing field to ensure that family farmers and ranchers can retain control over their lands, their food security, and their livelihoods. Farmers are on the front lines of our nation’s biggest challenges—from climate change to environmental justice—and it is our responsibility to ensure that they receive our full support.”

The Center for American Progress reported that mergers and acquisitions have increased corporate concentration across agricultural markets, including monopolizing 85 percent market share of the corn seed market through the 4 largest firms in the seed sector limiting access to small farmers. Corporate concentration and abusive practices in America’s food and farm sector diminish the availability of seed choice, limit the accessibility of domestic farmlands, increase food prices and lead to market manipulation; and hinder access to traditional foodways and agricultural practices.

“Trade wars, climate change, and unpredictable markets make farming harder and harder every day. And small farmers work incredibly hard for the fraction of a percentage of the American food dollar that they receive—currently less than .15 cents per dollar,” said Rep. Pingree, the House co-lead on the resolution. “Farmers deserve to know that they are protected from volatility in the markets, in their wages, and in their crucial place in America’s food landscape. The Farmers Bill of Rights will help protect land and markets while giving historically underrepresented farmers a voice in the future of American agriculture. I’m proud to join Rep. Haaland and Senator Booker in introducing this bill that will restore legal protections for farmers across the country.”

During today’s press conference, Webster Davis, Owner of Triple D Produce, shared his first-hand experience of the challenges facing family farmers and ranchers, highlighting the need for a Farmer's Bill of Rights resolution.

“Continuing the American struggle to recognize everyone’s right to be treated equally, the Farmers Bill of Rights represents the next step forward in this struggle,” said Webster.

The Farmers Bill of Rights is as follows:

  1. The right to fair, open markets. 
  2. The right to feed their community. 
  3. The right to fair capital. 
  4. The right to protect natural resources. 
  5. The right to local land control, property rights, & protection of tribal lands and sovereignty.
  6. The right to food security. 
  7. The right to repair. 
  8. The right to transparent labeling. 
  9. The right to rural opportunity. 
  10. The right to preserve a diverse community of farmers & farming practices.

Haaland met with small farmers and land grant communities in New Mexico’s First Congressional District where they shared the challenges they face accessing the market, sustainable farming, traditional land use, and the needs of their communities. During the August work period, Haaland held a town hall in Moriarty to discuss the Farmers Bill of Rights with the rural part of the First Congressional District.

Support for the Farmers Bill of Rights

Family farmers and ranchers are in support of the bill including a broad spectrum of agricultural, progressive, labor, climate change, and community organizations support the Farmers Bill of Rights including:

“Family Farm Action has been working with our partners for a long time to help Congress understand how important these rights are. We are grateful to have leaders like Senator Booker, Representative Haaland, and Representative Pingree who heard our call and are willing to stand up to the monopolies that control the farm and food sector.” – Wes Shoemyer, Family Farm Action Board Member

“I applaud Representatives Pingree and Haaland for responding to the dire situation of African-American, Hispanic, Tribal, and other small-scale, family farmers and ranchers by introducing a House Resolution, the Farmers Bill of Rights. For too long, these historically underrepresented farmers have been getting the short end of the nations' agricultural stick; unfair competition, limited and diminishing capital and credit access, and deteriorating rural communities and ways of life. I join Representatives Haaland and Pingree in charging Congress with actualizing these rights in future farm and food, environmental, and trade legislation.” – Anna Mulé, Slow Food USA

“With corporate consolidation threatening agriculture across the country, the Farmer’s Bill of Rights outlines a vision for a better economy and food system. Thank you to Rep. Haaland, Rep. Pingree and Sen. Booker for their clear commitment to protecting family farmers, particularly those from under-served communities.” – Jason Davidson, food and agriculture campaigner with Friends of the Earth

“Farmers from across all sectors of agriculture are coming together in recognition that our systems of agriculture are not fair to the farmers and laborers who work our land to provide food and public benefits to our community. The time has come to stand together and be recognized for the important work that we do and the basic rights that we all deserve.” – MOSES (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service)

 

List of Endorsements:

American Grassfed Association

CASA del Llano, INC

Citizens Regeneration Lobby

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture

Dakota Rural Action

Family Farm Action

Farm Aid

Farm to Table - New Mexico

Food and Water Watch Action

Friends of the Earth

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Indiana Farmers Union

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Land Stewardship Project

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network (MSAN)

Missouri Farmers Union

Missouri Rural Crisis Center

MOSES (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service)

National Family Farm Coalition

New England Farmers Union

New Mexico Food & Agriculture Policy Council

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

Open Markets Institute

Organic Consumer Association

Organization for Competitive Markets

Regeneration International

Renewing the Countryside

Slow Food USA

Union of Concerned Scientists

Wisconsin Farmers Union

Women Food and Agriculture Network