The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal made a splashy debut in Washington, D.C., this week. The so-called coalition representing farmers and ranchers kicked off with press releases, campaign videos, and a strong marketing pitch. It all culminated in the coalition presenting a letter to Congress, supposedly from farmers and ranchers, asking for the Green New Deal.
But that letter makes it glaringly obvious actual farmers and ranchers largely have nothing to do with this coalition or its goals.
How do I know? Just take a look at what the letter says. It urges Congress to pass legislation supporting “the transition away from industrial agriculture toward family farm-based organic and regenerative farming and land-use practices that improve soil health and draw down and sequester carbon.” It complains about “factory farms,” subsidies that “produce unhealthy foods,” and contaminating soils with “agricultural chemicals.” And it claims that consolidation in the industry threatens “food safety and food security.”
Farmers don’t talk like that. We choose production methods for our farm based on what’s going to work best, not whether it fits with some cute new trend. We’re obsessed about soil health and understand pesticides are important when necessary and used as labeled. We’re proud to supply the world with one of the most nutritious and abundant food supplies in human history. And we know the food we produce is safe — independent research shows that, plus we eat it ourselves.
So who’s behind this coalition?
Regeneration International is the main organization. It claims to support regenerative agriculture to end global warming and boost our food supply. But a quick look at its steering committee tells the rest of the story. Andre Leu, the international director, used to chair IFOAM Organics, an international organic action group. There’s also Vandana Shiva, a quack who’s made a name for herself advocating against glyphosate and GMOs (she’s also buddies with Food Babe). And Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, which is notorious for misleading the public and fear-mongering. Steve Rye, the CEO of the Mercola Institute (read: fake/bad medical website), is also involved.
And then there’s the Sunrise Movement. Based on the group’s website, it appears it’s a coalition of young people who really just want to get the Green New Deal passed into law. You might remember these guys as the protestors who staged a sit-in at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, joined them).
In other words, not farmers.
Speaking of farmers, how did farmers and the leading agriculture groups react when AOC dropped the Green New Deal? Well, the reaction was mixed. Some admittedly chose to poke fun and attack her. But others reached out and tried to start a conversation about climate change, agriculture, and the facts. And I pointed out that AOC seems to see agriculture as a problem, instead of a leader in sustainability.
But there is one thing that this coalition gets right: Farmers need to be active in the climate-change discussion. No, not the activists involved in this group. I mean real farmers and ranchers who are on the front lines of growing our nation’s food, dealing with the problems of climate change, and who possess invaluable knowledge that can get us to solutions. And I worry that we’re sitting on the sidelines while these important conversations are taking place.
Where is our splashy proposal? Why aren’t we sitting down with lawmakers? Why aren’t we making headlines?
Here’s what we have to carefully consider: Who do we want to lead this discussion? Right now it’s fake doctors, the Organic Consumers Association, AOC, and quacks. But for the most part, they don’t have any actual, real farm experience. They don’t know what we know or live how we live. They don’t understand what we do. They aren’t going to defend what we do. We can’t continue to let them drive the conversation. Because eventually they’ll be telling us how to farm. And it won’t be with scientifically sound practices that incorporate technology and all the tools in our box.
U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal doesn’t represent agriculture and farmers. And we need to make sure the world knows that.
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.