(Keynote delivered in Dayton, Ohio, February 15, 2019)

Elizabeth Henderson

I feel truly honored to have been entrusted to speak to the theme of your conference, “Just Farming: the Path Before Us” in celebration of OEFFA’s 40th anniversary!  I was here once before – in 1996 when the theme was Cooperating for Change! NOFA is up to 48! Together with the other organic farming associations, we are part of an important social movement.

In the 2016 presidential elections, I suspect that had “neither of the above” been on the ballot, it would have won the farmer vote.  The sad reality is that both mainstream parties advocate the neoliberal, free trade, cheap food policies that the ever more aggregated seed/food/chemical corporations have imposed upon our country since WWII to the detriment of family-scale farms all over the world.

But before I launch into this depressing story, let me ask a few questions:

If you farm or work on a farm or on the land in any way, please stand up. (Over half of the people in the audience of about 600 stood up.)

Please remain standing if you do this work full time. (About half of those standing remained standing)

Please remain standing if you make your full living from doing this work with no off farm income. (Only about a dozen people remained standing)

Now, please stand if you buy any of the food that you and your family eats. (Of course, everyone stood up.)

Thank you – we all have a stake in creating agrarian justice – making work on the land a dignified, respected way of life in which people can support themselves and their families growing healthy food for our communities. Continue reading “Agrarian Justice: Creating a Food System Worth Sustaining”