Communities across the country are facing the agribusiness industry’s increasing control over food production. Today, four corporations control over 85% of beef packing in the United States. Two corporations – Tyson and Smithfield – control over half of pork production. Thirty-five percent of milk production is controlled by Dean Foods.
There is an immense governmental system that props up unsustainable food production at the expense of our communities. Agribusiness corporations use their “rights” under the law to prevent us from rejecting the damage offered up by conventional, large scale farming operations and mandating the type of agriculture that feeds our communities. And as the agribusiness industry increases its hold, communities are facing severe impacts to their water, soils, air, local economy, and quality of life, not to mention the loss of family and small farmers.
People’s efforts to create local, sustainable food systems are thwarted by a structure of state and federal law that favors the agribusiness industry over the interests of communities and sustainability. The survival of a truly sustainable community food system is threatened when the decisions about food and farming and the regulations that govern them are not made by the people who live in that community.
The right to local control over farming has a broad community impact on everyone who farms and everyone who eats. CELDF’s rights based Food Bill of Rights model ordinance protects local family farm corporations, provides for the humane treatment of livestock, prohibits trespass by Genetically Modified Organisms, mandates formula restaurants and grocery stores to carry food products raised on local farms, denies interference from permits issued to corporations that would violate the local law, denies interference from state or federal agents or agencies that is in violation of the rights of community members secured by the ordinance, and provides for the Rights of Nature.
Recognizing and asserting these rights is the first step toward creating local, sustainable food systems.
To explore rights-based organizing to support building a local, sustainable food system in your community, contact the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund today. firstname.lastname@example.org.