Unbroken Connection to the Land

David Bacon and Rosalinda Guillen | 2.8.17

Repost from Food First

The following is the eighth installment in Food First's Dismantling Racism in the Food System series, and is abridged from 2017’s forthcoming book Land Justice: Re-imagining Land, Food, and the Commons. This brief is based on an interview by David Bacon with farmworker activist Rosalinda Guillen. The transcript has been abridged and edited for clarity by Erik Hazard.

Click here to download this Backgrounder, view in full below, or read the interview in its entirety in Food First’s upcoming book Land Justice: Re-imagining Land, Food, and the Commons in the United States

Large tracts of agricultural land offer farmers the opportunity for increased production and profit—but not without a cost. While soy, corn, and other grain farmers barely afford it by using expensive, labor-saving machinery, genetically tailored seeds, fertilizers, and chemical inputs, that is not the case for other types of farmers. Farmers of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and livestock rely on human labor and skill. Most often, farmers find such labor in migrant and immigrant farmworkers.

The same market economy that compels the intensification and consolidation of agricultural land in the United States has also pushed farmers off their land, depressed local economies, and driven mass migration across Latin America. For generations, displaced peasant farmers have come to the United States seeking work. They often find it on farms, where they bring extensive knowledge and appreciation for growing food. However, what they often find here are dangerous working conditions and appallingly low wages.

This interview with Rosalinda Guillen highlights the interlocking destinies of farmers and farmworkers and the ways in which the land and its people can resist the exploitation and discrimination of migrant farm work while offering a deep, restorative land ethic. It reminds us that the knowledge and skills that farmworkers have gained over lifetimes and generations of farming is a precious resource essential for a new food system.

Click here to download this Backgrounder, view in first page below, or read the interview in its entirety in Food First’s upcoming book Land Justice: Re-imagining Land, Food, and the Commons in the United States

Keep Bellingham Working Ordinance + Keep WA Working Act

Big News! C2C has helped introduce two important pieces of legislation on the local and state level to provide security, protection, and rights for vulnerable communities. 

Read Keep Washington Working Act (SB-5689)

Read Keep Bellingham Families Working Ordinance

Keep Bellingham Working Ordinance

With local and statewide collaboration of grassroots organizations led by people of color and undocumented activists in Whatcom County, C2C, The Racial Justice Coalition, Latino Advocacy and the WWU-Blue Group, have written and introduced an ordinance we know will provide security, protection, and rights for all vulnerable people in Bellingham. The Bellingham City Council is now considering a vote on the ordinance. We need your support now more than ever. 

Please e-mail the Bellingham City Council and encourage them to vote yes on the Keep Bellingham Families Working ordinance.

Keep Washington Working Act

Our bill SB-5689, The Keep Washington Working Act, was introduced on Thursday, Feb. 2nd in the Senate and referred to the Commerce, Labor and Sports Committee! We are not only thrilled because we have an amazing bill drafted by grassroots leaders from C2C, Whatcom Civil Rights Project, Latino Advocacy, and Latino Civic Alliance; but also because it was kept in our preferred committee as was our goal. This is a historic moment. Not only do we have a bill we can champion because it is written by us and for us to clearly protect our communities; but because this is happening during the fascist attacks from the new presidential administration.

English Talking Points for SB-5689

Puntos Para Discusión SB-5689

Please distribute far and wide. It is time to start building support and educating communities about what undocumented people really want in policy. We will let you know as soon as we have a hearing date, so we can plan our turn-out and support for the bill.

You can follow the bill here. 

Call Commerce Committee members to voice your support. Contact information for the committee members here.

Fighting Back in 2017: A Road Map

A message from C2C's Maru Mora Villapando:

Nothing new, just hypocrisy thrown out the window

For a while now I have realized how liberals and progressives (western labels to define the left, if there is such a thing in the US) have always denied they are part of white supremacist empire. That label and their politeness, or should we say passive aggressiveness, has been used to draw a line between them and the right wing, nationalists, neo-Nazis that are easier to identify as such. These elections are the result of a long process built by both parties. And the losers are actively looking to blame the same people they have left down, oppressed and abused while smiling to them at the same time. Democrats don’t want to be questioned, they have used the right wing xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, etc. to force our communities to accept them as they are, and not be accountable to us. They have been too comfortable. But that is starting to change.

Neoliberalism for fascism

If neoliberalism is on its way out, that doesn’t mean free trade is gone. It probably will change a bit; under fascism there is a possibility of more protectionism to calm the base that elected Republicans again. But corporations will find an easier way to exploit people, resources and land. Standing Rock will be in even more danger. Forced migration will continue, and let’s remember that it has evolved from purely economic reasons (which progressives would like us to believe as the sole reason why migration continues) to more complicated elements created by the US and western international policies, such as wars, organized crime, land grabbing, and climate change. These will continue and expand under this new administration in a way we have never seen before.

Our experience with colonialism and fascism

Most of us immigrants that were forced to leave our hometowns, know first hand what this kind of government looks like, and we know how to survive it. We have seen the signs, we have seen the rise, and we have lived the process of implementation and consequences. That is why we are here. Based on that, I tell you, don’t panic, you may loose some privileges but that is what will be required for the larger community to be mobilized. We know this can be the new normal, and if that happens, then we will be forced to leave again and organizing will become more difficult.

We will see a quick implementation of “reforms” in the first two years, in parallel to immigration raids at some work places but not too many, to not anger the business community. Detention and deportations will increase and the machine will be expanded. Budget will increase for DHS and all its enforcement.

By the third year of this administration the electoral campaign will begin again.

Opportunistic groups

How can this become the new normal? When people and groups adapt, because in the first place they didn’t want to lose their privileges, they didn’t want to lose their comfort, they begin to fit in the system they claimed they were fighting against. We are already seeing the legal experts coming out and telling us, the poor victims, what to do and what not to do and how to do it. They say, “don’t panic” at the same time not allowing our leadership to decide what to do. One thing for sure is that they will have many clients during these next four years.

And the big non-profits will capitalize off people’s fears and will add them to their lists and call them “members”.

All these groups will focus on the “good immigrants,” aka Dreamers or DACA recipients, and yes, these groups won’t see their work permits renewed, and will loose their jobs and scholarships,  but most don’t have a criminal record.  The first community to be targeted for deportation proceedings under Trump will continue to be the people with criminal records, or those that will be in contact with the criminal system. There will be less refugee and asylum seekers coming to this country. We also might see those who have had their cases closed, re-opened if they fit in the “criminal” category.

And the “progressives” will continue claiming they fought for us and tried to defend us, but people didn’t vote for them so it is their own fault, when they get to congress there won’t be anything they can do, oh well…

We have survived

As in our home countries, as in this country, we have survived. We have learned how to live day by day, find ways to not be seen, find small support networks, then bigger ones. Heck, some of us even dared to live a real life without fear, and without safety net. I can’t find a job so I’ll set up a business.I can’t afford an apartment; I’ll rent with others. I’m sick and don’t have insurance, I’ll keep working and get some medicinas de la farmacia Mexicana. My relative was killed, I’ll contact mis paisanos and they will help me fundraise to send the body back to our country

We have resisted

And when we got tired of being afraid, tired of listening “wait, be patience”, “wait for an immigration reform”, we began the resistance. First in the form of rapid response teams (deploy legal observers to the sites of immigration raids, find legal support, do Know Your Rights workshops), then our own lobbying at national and state levels, then direct action based on community organizing strategies. We have been willing to risk whatever we have left to create real political, societal and cultural change.

We have won

We have tried different things, and as long as leadership is true to the cause, we have won! We are a sore to GEO, and a thorn in ICE’s side. Media and local communities recognize us as the experts; we can speak for ourselves and about ourselves. People in detention and their relatives rely on our work. Other POC grassroots movements also recognize our work and integrity. We have been able to bring together people of different backgrounds and experiences, and work together. And because this works, we must continue this formula.

My proposal is as follows:

·      Continue organizing as possible with people in detention

·      Continue using direct action as one of our main tools

·      Invite non-detained immigrants to organize house meetings, with our support, organize in their neighborhoods. We will supply the tools we have developed (ICE free zone flyers, Archivo, toll free numbers, organizing basics, meeting facilitation) so each group/family can decide how to protect and defend themselves.

·      We will bring an immigration lawyer under the premise that the law hasn’t been on our side and it wont be for the next four years. In fact it might get worse. That’s why we need to develop our own support systems.

·      Once we have enough groups organized in different regions, we will connect them to grow the network.

·      Parallel to this work, we will work with our trusted national partners for them to give us a heads up on federal policy coming down the pipe, with model local policy to counteract its impact.

·      Create deeper relationships with local POC grassroots led groups: abolitionist, climate justice, gender justice, reproductive justice, farmworkers, Native Indigenous, Black, API, LGBTQ, formerly incarcerated, etc.

·      Look for co-conspirators, reserve space for allies.

We don’t ask you to protect us, we ask you to work with us

We must be careful about good people with good intentions misunderstanding our ask. When protection and safety is what communities ask for and will need, we must refuse becoming victims, or allowing white fragility to take over.

As we develop collaborations we have to keep our integrity and be true to our work. We will need to work with many, and we can’t do this alone. But most importantly we need to create long lasting change and this can only come with leadership that comes from the base, for the base.

Law has not and won’t be on our side

The system has relied on criminalizing our communities and legal limitations to operate. It has been a challenge to unmask the non-profit/Dems system that has made people believe that the solutions are within policy and litigation alone. The “advocates” have again and again gambled with our communities and thrown us under the bus for them to move along the political ladder. We can’t trust them that in the next four years they will be enlightened to all of the sudden change. We can’t rely on the law to “help” us. Now more than ever we need real grassroots community organizing and law advocates that understand their role in a larger movement.

Do what we know how to do best: organize!

This new phase in our work and in the nation is not about this election alone. We knew that even if the Republican Party had lost, we would be facing a more difficult challenge: the illusion of progress, as what we have in this "blue" state. In this new order we are facing, there are new opportunities and new challenges. As a committed group of people we have shown we are here for the long haul and we are not afraid of taking on bigger challenges. To the trump presidency, the hurt Dems, the fascist system being implemented as we speak, I say: Bring it on! ‘cause we are not going anywhere. We’ll fight back, and even if we loose, our dignity will be intact.

¡Hasta la victoria siempre compañerxs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maru Mora Villalpando

6 Reasons to Vote No on 1-732

Photo Credit: Front and Centered

Photo Credit: Front and Centered


#DontBeNeutral l www.dontbeneutral.org

1.     It Won’t Work
A slowly rising carbon price may have worked in 1986 -- but in 2016 now need we need massive investments in clean energy and strong communities. In British Columbia, the model for I-732, a ‘revenue-neutral’ carbon tax has been around for eight years, and greenhouse gas emissions have gone up.

2.     It Squanders Resources Needed to Fight Climate Change
Clean energy investments are essential to transitioning away from fossil fuels, but I-732 is ‘revenue-neutral’ opting for tax cuts over climate infrastructure. Our legislature is already failing to fund basic education, we won’t get another shot.

3.     It is a Corporate Giveaway
Instead of climate investments, I-732 gives tax cuts to big corporations, Boeing alone could get $50 million a year in tax giveaways. In British Columbia, two thirds of carbon revenues go to corporate pockets.

4.     It Robs the State Budget, Hurting People Most in Need.
The Initiative was poorly drafted and would result in a $797 million budget hole in the first six fiscal years -- despite proponents attempts to downplay the bad news -- which would impact people with lower incomes and communities of color the hardest.

5.     Environmentalists, Progressives, Workers, and Communities of Color Say Vote No
Washington Conservation Voters, the Progressive Voters GuideWashington State Labor Council, and Front and Centered, among many others committed to climate action, urge you to vote no.

6.     There is a Better Way
Right now in California more than one billion dollars of polluter pays money each year is invested in transit, solar power, and affordable housing near jobs -- and California is on track to meet its its climate targets unlike British Columbia where the revenue-neutral model is in place. A broad coalition is moving forward on an approach that centers investment.

Institutional food purchasing the target of upcoming forum

Reposted article by Stephanie Danahue of The Northern Light

It’s one thing to convince a friend or family member to purchase healthy food, but it’s another to make it a viable option for public institutions tasked with feeding the masses.

On Thursday, November 17, stakeholder groups focused on transforming the way public institutions purchase food, as well as interested members of the public, are invited to attend Whatcom Food Network’s fall forum. The session, which features a series of presentations and networking opportunities, lasts from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Garden Room at Whatcom County Public Works facility, located at 322 N. Commercial Street in Bellingham.

The Whatcom Food Network has hosted the forum twice a year since 2012 to provide a place for advocacy groups to network and stay up to date on the latest initiatives to improve the way food is purchased, consumed and disposed of. The forum acts as a valuable resource for the public to learn more on the topic and to connect with organizations promoting the cause.

This year, familiar faces from the Bellingham-based Opportunity Council, Community to Community, the Community Food Co-op and Sustainable Connections plan to attend, said Whatcom Food Network assistant Diana Meeks.

The Center for Good Food Purchasing associate director Colleen McKinney will lead a presentation about values-based food purchasing for public institutions. To guide them in this effort, the organization carries the five following core values: to improve local economies, maintain health, boost the local workforce, protect animal welfare and increase environmental sustainability.

The organization continues to lead the effort in health conscious and locally based food purchasing for public institutions such as schools, hospitals and government agencies. Staff with the organization credit their work with the Los Angeles School District as being one of their greatest successes. With their help, the school district now serves locally sourced and healthy meals.

Maintaining a sustainable and local food source “makes a really big impact on local and regional food systems,” Meeks said.

Guest speaker Mark Peterson from Bellingham-based Sustainable Connections will also make an appearance to discuss organic food waste in Whatcom County and the associated challenges.

Participants will have the chance to take part in an open discussion about local food systems and will have additional opportunities to network with the slew of interest groups already on the docket to attend.

The event is free and requires an RSVP.

To learn more call 360/647-7093 or visit their website at whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/foodnetwork.

No More False Solutions. We Need a Just Transition Now.

Blog Post by Edgar Franks, Formacion Civica Coordinator.

Coming out of the COP21 in Paris last December, we on the front lines knew that the agreement was not a real solution to our climate crisis. It was apparent that this was a world wide market scheme that didn't do much for the people who are already dealing with the consequences of global warming and rising sea levels. Effected communities called for an end to fracking, to leave fossil fuels in the ground, and to keep global temperatures from rising past the 1.5 Celsius degree threshold. The overarching demand was to end false solutions and techno fixes to the climate crises. such as the carbon market.

The COP21 heard arguments from indigenous people from across the globe and also from peasant farmers and fisherfolk who reject the false promises of market-based solutions. Unfortunately their pleas were not listened to. The people we claim are our heroes, the ones that are resisting mega extractive projects like pipelines, mining, coal ports, and industrial agriculture, were left out of the climate talks. The loss of the their voices at the table resulted was the loss of a human rights and indigenous rights framework for our future. 

Among the groups at the table were established "civil" society groups, the ones who claim to be experts and work with the grassroots communities. They usually get their funding from governments and corporations with a specific agenda: to make minimal reforms without changing the structures or systems that are causing harm to Mother Earth; the systems that keep money flowing to the polluters while the rest of the world burns.

We left the COP more motivated than ever to make sure that these false solutions didn't take hold in our local communities. Here in Washington we are at a critical time. Even though we are blessed with an abundance of natural resources and beauty, we are not immune to the effects of climate change. Just last year the Olympic forest caught fire for the first time in recorded history. Our waters are warming so fast that we are in danger of losing salmon and shellfish. We experienced an unprecedented drought that we still haven't recovered from. All this is the new normal. We can only expect things to get worse unless we act and begin to put forth bold ideas and action.

In order for this to happen we must listen to the voices of those on the ground who have to deal with the daily consequences of climate change and environmental damage. Who are these people in our own backyard? They are those who live in poverty who are exposed to higher levels of toxics and pollutants (like farm workers who, in order to make a living, have to work under the increasingly hot summer sun for over 12 hours in pesticide and agrochemical covered fields). They are the people in the cities who breathe in the pollutants from traffic and other industries. They are the native people who are at risk of losing their livelihood, salmon and water that they fought to preserve for generations. They are the workers who are in refineries but want to transition to a new fossil fuel free economy. These people feel the impact of climate change and they deserve a seat at the table when it comes to proposing solutions, especially because these decisions impact their lives culturally and economically.

We have seen this cycle of "experts", think tanks, and non-profits try to say that they represent us. And just like at the COP21 they only speak for their own interests. If we get mentioned it's only in a paternalistic and tokenized way. But we are no longer willing to play that game because we ourselves have the solutions. Carbon markets and capitalism have proven to be disastrous and the reason why we are at this critical point of no return in climate crisis. Ask the people in the gulf coast and in Haiti who are now dealing with yet another crisis, and the people in Standing Rock who are fighting against the pipelines, wether they think a climate tax will save them.

We propose to have a bold vision and just transition where a new economy is based on justice and sustainably and not on profits and extraction.

The Revolution is Community

Guest Blog post from Naim Edwards, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.

The “world hunger” discussion – certainly in the media – focuses on the overdeveloped nations and wealthy individuals figuring out how to help and provide resources for less industrialized nations to feed themselves. Whether it’s the G8, Monsanto, the Gates Foundation, or any other corporate entity, their answer to solving world hunger includes economic growth and some new agriculture technology. Both of those solutions are misinformed and unnecessary. The solution is actually quite simple; the people experiencing hunger probably know the answer better than most. World hunger will cease to be an issue when all people have the right to produce and share food as they see fit.

When examined from a political lens, world hunger is fundamentally a power issue. Governments have co-opted the power of their people in order to join the rat race of capitalism; corporations also deceive governments and people with false promises of a better quality of life once they’re given permission to establish themselves. The creation of world hunger probably began with the onslaught of colonialism and continues with the perpetuation of neoliberalism through trade agreements and more militarized foreign affairs. In both cases, stable populations of people are coerced into divesting of power, which leads to increased dependence on global forces.

 Local people power can neither be measured by weapons technology nor GDP.  Rather, the power of a community can be qualified by the health of individuals and their bonds with one another. When a group of people is healthy and has strong relationships built on trust, it possesses resilience. Food production gives people the power to sustain themselves. Moreover, a society that supports agriculture that is healing to the Earth and its people is arguably the fundamental building block of civilization. Regarding world hunger, it is clear that widespread starvation is the result of taking a population and individuals’ ability to feed themselves.

With this understanding, it is encouraging to know the solution to hunger is clear; give the power back. Stated differently, countries and corporations must acknowledge and allow populations of people to have food sovereignty. Via Campesina, the world’s strongest grassroots organization fighting for food sovereignty defines it as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” As simple as it sounds, there is strong opposition to the food sovereignty movement. Such a model does not play into and benefit the profit driven model so many countries and companies adhere to.

Nonetheless, the movement has been named and defined and people all over the world are pursuing it. More importantly, groups of people are organizing collectively, and one organization doing that in the United States is the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA). The USFSA is dedicated to ending poverty and bringing forth more democratic control over the food system locally, nationally, and globally. The alliance also hosts the Food Sovereignty Prize, an annual event that honors organizations leading the food sovereignty movement.

 This years honorees are the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). Both organizations are challenging systems of oppression through organizing people experiencing injustice in the food system. They also practice principles of agroecology, which seek to incorporate culture, activism, and ecologically sound practices into food production. Thanks to the efforts of AFSA and FWAF world hunger is not simply being addressed by feeding people or making them conform to foreign food production techniques. These grassroots organizations are building resilient communities and recognizing the power and dignity of the people they serve.

Naim Edwards, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

Important Message from FUJ

Dear Supporters,

As of today, Sept. 4, 2016 Sakuma Brothers Farms and Familias Unidas por La Justicia have mutually agreed to conduct a secret ballot election within the next 8 days. The election will determine if the employees want to be represented by Familias Unidas por La Justicia in collective bargaining with Sakuma Farms. Thanks to your tireless efforts we are entering into this next phase of our union’s development with hope and determination. At this time we are calling for an end of the boycott, and all boycott activities. Out of respect for the process and our memorandum of understanding with the company please do not contact past, present or potential customers, purchasers, sellers or users of products coming from Sakuma Bros Berry Farm to convey criticism of any and all aspects of Sakuma’s business and operations.

Please stay tuned at the Familias Unidas por La Justicia Facebook page for updates.


Ramon Torres
Felimon Pineda

#FUJsolidaridad #FUJsolidarity

Eighth Annual Food Sovereignty Prize Honors Grassroots Organizations Calling Big Ag’s Bluff

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        

 Media Contacts:                                                    

Heather Day, Executive Director, Community Alliance for Global Justice                                                                                         Heather@cagj.org |206.724.224

Colette Cosner, Communications Coordinator, Community to Community Development                                                                     Colettecosner@gmail.com | 206.250.2680

International Allies Challenge Corporate Control of the Food System and False Solutions of Biotechnology

Eighth Annual Food Sovereignty Prize Honors Grassroots Organizations Calling Big Ag’s Bluff  


SEATTLE, WA, August, 31 2016 ­– The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) is pleased to announce the honorees of the eighth annual Food Sovereignty Prize:  the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF). The honorees were selected for their success in promoting food sovereignty, agroecology and social justice to ensure that all people have access to fresh, nutritious food produced in harmony with the planet.

Lauded as an alternative to the World Food Prize, the Food Sovereignty Prize champions real solutions to hunger and is recognized by social movements, activists and community-based organizations around the world. The 2016 honorees are strident in their resistance to the corporate control of our food system, including false solutions of biotechnology that damage the planet while exacerbating poverty and hunger. Their programs and policies support small-scale farmers and communities, build unified networks, and prioritize the leadership of food providers, including women, farmworkers, peasants, indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities within the system.

“Hunger is not a technical problem, it’s a political problem,” said John Peck, Executive Director of Family Farm Defenders and US Food Sovereignty Alliance member.  “Small farmers have had the solution to hunger for millennia in agroecology and food sovereignty.”

“The Borlaug and Gates Foundations and multinational corporations like Monsanto promote biotechnology because they profit from it. Ask the millions of farmworkers, family farmers and family fishermen feeding their communities what they need and they will tell you:  access to land, clean water and their own seeds,” noted Diana Robinson, Campaign and Education Coordinator at the Food Chain Workers Alliance and US Food Sovereignty Alliance member.

About the Honorees

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) was founded in 2008 by a group of activist networks and launched in Durban, South Africa, during the 2011 alternative people's climate summit, organized to counter the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference Of the Parties 17 talks (COP17). AFSA brings together organizations representing smallholder farmers, pastoralists and hunter/gatherers; indigenous peoples; youth, women and consumer networks; people of faith; and environmental activists from across Africa. Together they advocate for community rights and family farming, promote traditional knowledge systems, and protect natural resources. In the face of increased corporate agribusiness interests threatening their food systems, including massive land and water grabs, the criminalization of seed-saving practices, and false solutions to climate change such as so-called "Climate-Smart Agriculture", AFSA unites the people most impacted by these injustices to advance food sovereignty through agroecological practices, policy work and movement-building efforts.

Bern Guri, The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa’s chairperson, noted, “Africa has a myriad of ways to feed her people and to keep her environment safe. However, a few international corporations from the global North have generated approaches strictly for their own profit by misleading our leaders and our people, stealing our seeds and culture, and destroying our environment.”

For AFSA it is clear that the way forward will allow food producers, supported by consumers, to take control of production systems and markets to provide healthy and nutritious food. Facing the many ecological, economic and social challenges in today’s world requires an urgent transition to agroecology to establish the ecologically sustainable, socially just and nutritious food systems of the future, and it can be done through the collective, inclusive and democratic co-generation of the knowledge held by farmers, consumers, researchers and African governments, who are meant to serve the interests of their (farming) populations.

The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF), founded in 1986, has a long-standing mission to build power among farmworker and rural low-income communities to gain control over the social, political, workplace, economic, health and environmental justice issues affecting their lives. Their guiding vision is a social environment in which farmworkers are treated as equals, not exploited and deprived based on race, ethnicity, immigrant status, or socioeconomic status. As members of the world’s largest social movement, La Via Campesina, FWAF is building collective power and a unified force for providing better living and working conditions, as well as equity and justice for farmworker families and communities.  This includes building leadership and activist skills among communities of color who are disproportionately affected by pesticide exposure/health problems, environmental contamination, racism, exploitation and political under-representation while lifting up women’s wisdom and leadership.

"Farmworker families pay the greatest price in the corporate food system of today.  They work in fields of poison and exploitation so that people can easily access cheap foods,” explained Elvira Carvajal, Farmworker Association of Florida's lead organizer in Homestead, Florida. “We have a vision to bring together the community around the art of healing with good food and herbs, which is part of our culture.  We practice agroecology in the community by sharing the knowledge we bring from our grandparents, our mothers, our families, our ancestors.  The meeting of cultures that happens in the gardens, where we grow our own food without chemicals, and sharing plants and traditions and knowledge across generations is a beautiful thing.  I am proud of our own people practicing food and seed sovereignty."

US Food Sovereignty Alliance members Community to Community Development and Community Alliance for Global Justice will host the prize for the first time in the Northwest, welcoming the 2016 Honorees and Alliance partners from across the country to Seattle and Bellingham for several days of activities and actions. The prize ceremony will take place on Saturday, October 15th at 6pm at Town Hall  at Eighth and Seneca in Seattle.

For event updates and more information on the prize and this year’s winners visit www.foodsovereigntyprize.org, follow the Food Sovereignty Prize at facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyPrize and join the conversation on Twitter (#foodsovprize).


About US Food Sovereignty Alliance

The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) is a US-based alliance of food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based and food producer groups that upholds the right to food as a basic human right and works to connect our local and national struggles to the international movement for food sovereignty. The Alliance works to end poverty, rebuild local food economies and assert democratic control over the food system, believing that all people have the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food produced in an ecologically sound manner. Learn more at usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org.

Inspiring Change in the Food System

C2C believes the best food system includes worker solidarity and a voice with power in the workplace; all workers no matter their race or ethnicity deserve the opportunity to organize into a union and collectively bargain with their employers. A recent pri.org article describes yet another example how workers can stand together and also how the powerful agricultural bosses worked to break up the union.

Around 200 Mexican betabeleros (beet pickers) and 1,000 Japanese buranke katsugi (blanket carriers, so named for their itinerant lifestyles) united. They formed the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association (JMLA), one of America’s first multiracial labor unions. Communicating through interpreters, this multilingual group successfully negotiated a strategy for action. On February 11, 1903, workers walked off the job in what would become the “first successful agricultural strike” in Southern California, according to the Encyclopedia of U. Labor and Working-Class History. By the end of March, the group’s numbers had grown to 1,300 and frustrated growers brought in scabs to cross the picket lines.
— Natasha Varner, How Japanese and Mexican American farm workers formed an alliance that made history
Millions of temporary workers from Mexico came north through the Bracero Program, the US’s largest agricultural contract labor program . Here, a bracero is vaccinated while others wait in line at the Monterrey Processing Center, Mexico in 1956.  Credit: Leonard Nadel/Archives Center, National Museum of American History,  Smithsonian Institution

Millions of temporary workers from Mexico came north through the Bracero Program, the US’s largest agricultural contract labor program . Here, a bracero is vaccinated while others wait in line at the Monterrey Processing Center, Mexico in 1956.

Credit: Leonard Nadel/Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution


Similar to Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a group of immigrant farm workers from Oaxaca, these immigrant workers from Mexico, Japan, China and the Philippines came together in solidarity and in spite of being excluded from the National Labor Relations Act still were able to legally form their union. The only difference between then and now is that today the AFL-CIO and the WA State Labor Council stands strong with FUJ. We believe that together family farmers and large agri-corporations can collectively bargain to improve our food system. Our organization, and many others, are ready to use all of our resources and relationships to promote a fair trade product, such as a berry with the Familias Unidas por La Justicia union label. The power of the union can mobilize the purchasing power of the consumers!

C2C to Co-host 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize Ceremony


Community to Community is very excited to announce that we will co-host the Food Sovereignty Prize ceremony in October 2016! Community to Community and Community Alliance for Global Justice will host the prize for the first time in the Northwest, welcoming the Prize Honorees, and our Alliance partners from across the country to Seattle and Bellingham for several days of activities, including the ceremony to award the prize. The ceremony will take place the evening of Friday October 14 or Saturday October 15 - Stay tuned!

The Food Sovereignty Prize is awarded by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. The US Food Sovereignty Alliance works to end poverty, rebuild local food economies, and assert democratic control over the food system. We believe all people have the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced in an ecologically sound manner. As a US-based alliance of food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based and food producer groups, we uphold the right to food as a basic human necessity and public good and work to connect our local and national struggles to the international movement for food sovereignty.

Community to Community and Community Alliance for Global Justice are both proud recipients of the prize. Community to Community was awarded the prize in 2014, and CAGJ received Honorable Mention the first year the prize was awarded, 2009, when La Via Campesina was awarded the prize.

Check out this powerful acceptance speech from Rosalinda Guillen during the 2014 prize ceremony.

July 11th: Hundreds of Supporters March with Familias Unidas por La Justicia


CONTACT: Maru Mora Villalpando 206-251-6658

JULY 12, 2016


Photo Credit: David Bacon

Photo Credit: David Bacon

BELLINGHAM, WA - Farmworker union members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) marched to the Sakuma Berry Processing plant yesterday afternoon in what has now become an annual tradition. This year there was a celebratory spirit with the news that the CEO of Sakuma Farms has finally relented and has requested to meet and jointly develop an MOU with a process for a secret ballot union election that will lead to a collective bargaining agreement.

Hundreds of supporters marched on Cook Rd. alongside FUJ members and leadership celebrating this historic step for Familias Unidas por la Justicia. After four years of forming the union and three years of boycotting the Driscoll's label, one of the biggest buyers of Sakuma berries, the end is in sight for this labor conflict that has impacted the local farming community in Skagit and Whatcom Counties.

When the marchers arrived at the processing plant, a delegation formed by labor and faith representatives including Jeff Johnson from Washington State Labor Council, Debi Covert-Bolts from National Farmworker Ministries NW and Sanchez from Brown Berets Portland, went into the Sakuma administrative offices after having to wait 20 minutes to be allowed in by security. "It's hard to believe that Sakuma publicizes that they are willing to negotiate and then allow this kind of hostile behavior by their security personnel; they pushed a farmworker in a wheel chair that was part of our delegation", said Jeff Johnson.

Once the delegation was able to go in, two Sakuma administration employees, one of them a manager who would not identify himself, refused to receive the delegation. The group then decided to write a letter and read it out loud to the two employees and delivered it. Jeff Johnson then led the delegation back to the marchers and gave a report to the crowd that was waiting for them. Supporters that made up the march then began making calls to Driscoll's, Haagen Dazs and Sakuma corporate offices asking for a fair and transparent negotiation process without intimidation such as what was exhibited today.

"We ask that consumers and supporters from around the nation and beyond to continue the boycott of Driscoll's berries until we ask you to stop", said Ramon Torres, President of FUJ to the crowd after the delegation gave their report. "Even in spite of this rudeness, we are still willing to meet with the Sakuma CEO on July 14th and begin a fair and transparent negotiation process without intimidations”, continued Torres.

The march ended peacefully and organizers made sure everyone was able to return to the start point of the march at a parking lot by the I-5 232 exit.

For pictures visit https://boycottsakumaberries.com/2016/07/13/4-years-of-struggle-workers-march-and-rally-at-sakuma-farm/


FUJ is an independent farmworker union in Burlington WA with 500 members fighting for a union contract with Sakuma Farms to ensure living wage salaries, fair treatment, respect and dignity of farmworkers

C2C Continues to Stand in Solidarity with Familias Unidas por La Justicia

Photo Credit: David Bacon

Photo Credit: David Bacon

As the struggle for a union contract a Sakuma Bros. Berry Farms continues, C2C continues to stand with Familias Unidas por la Justicia. Below is FUJ's most recent press statement. Please share widely. 

For Immediate Release                       

Contact: Maru Mora Villalpando 206-251-6657

July 8th 2016

Four Years Struggle Three Years Boycott, Sakuma Finally Ready to Negotiate

FUJ Response to Sakuma Press Statement on MOU

Burlington, WA - We at Familias Unidas Por la Justica  (FUJ) are certainly encouraged that Sakuma Berry Farms has relented to the pressure of the #BoycottDriscolls campaign and the workers voices in the fields to finally agree to begin negotiations.

We want to make three things very clear:

1.     Sakuma Brothers Farms approached us at FUJ indirectly to begin the process.

2.     We have agreed to meet on a date proposed by them.

3.     They asked for confidentiality about this prior to our meeting with them.

While we certainly were encouraged by Sakuma approaching us initially, unfortunately, the recent press statements and actions by Sakuma, are far from encouraging. 

First, FUJ did not receive the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from Sakuma directly but rather indirectly through an intermediary. FUJ received it on July 4, 2016 not on June 27th as Sakuma stated.

Second, the draft MOU proposed by Sakuma Berry Farms was slated to be mutually discussed by both parties in a meeting scheduled on July 14th at their request.  This draft MOU has not been negotiated nor has it been discussed between FUJ and Sakuma.

Third, we the leadership and members of FUJ have in good faith honored the request to remain the preliminary process confidential until our mutually agreed upon meeting on July 14th. We are shocked at their decision to release this press statement. In further that it has so many inaccuracies and breach their proposed confidentiality.

“Despite Sakuma’s attempt to unilaterally impose an election process, FUJ has been and is ready to meet and negotiate a fair process for the workers to choose their union representatives without intimidation or coercion on July 14th or before if necessary”, said FUJ President Ramon Torres.

Farmworkers members of FUJ will be available to address this issue at the upcoming march on Monday July 11th at 3:30PM at the Sakuma fields on Cook Road, Burlington.

# # #

FUJ is an independent farmworker union in Burlington WA with 500 members fighting for a union contract with Sakuma Farms to ensure living wage salaries, fair treatment, respect and dignity of farmworkers