US Social Forum Food Sovereignty Declaration

CAGJ members participated in the US Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA) on Food Justice and Sovereignty at the US Social Forum that produced this statement, and we are excited to share it with you today!  It includes the very exciting development of the new US Food Sovereignty Alliance ( a re-working of the former US Food Crisis Working Group)!
Please forward widely – and let’s make salt!
Heather Day
CAGJ Director

Lovers of Justice, Sustainability and Dignity in the Agricultural and Food System (and the economy in general):

The June 22-26 US Social Forum was host to the first US Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA) on Food Justice and Sovereignty, which took place in the canopy village of the USSF in Detroit on June 23, despite weather forecasts of strong winds and hail. The People of the Land persevered and converged (about 150 strong representing probably 70 to 90 organizations across the U.S., rural and urban, grassroots and accompaniment NGOs, indigenous and non-indigenous, people of many colors and languages, elders and youth, to work out our common vision and shared lines of action we intend to take together. Below is the resolution/declaration with a list of actions we will be pursuing in the weeks, months and years to come. Also below that is the statement of the Indigenous Sovereignty Synthesis presented at the National PMA on Saturday, June 26, that holds particular resonance with the Food Sovereignty Declaration.) Out of this and other gatherings in Detroit, a new organization emerged, the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, that positions organizations part of this US based alliance to build a stronger U.S. counterpart than heretofore existed to the various Food Sovereignty alliances and movements across the planet. Representatives of Via Campesina North America, the Caribbean and International were present in the various meetings that moved this agenda forward in Detroit. (Via Campesina first popularized the concept of “food sovereignty” in their various struggles against international financial institutions, so-called “free” trade agreements and peoples gatherings in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia…) People representing organizations or interesting in joining organizations, who are inspired by this declaration and this organizing effort, and would like to join forces with the process of building and strengthening the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, should contact myself (Stephen Bartlett, [email protected] and Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau, [email protected] ) to get in the (on-line listserve and/or other…) loop for future planning and organizing. As the Declaration states: The moment has come for lovers of food justice and sovereignty in the U.S. to “make salt.” Help us plan and implement the actions that will help us strengthen and unify our various efforts to “make salt” (fight impoverishment, cool the planet, preserve our “habitat”, the ecosphere). peace through active struggles for justice and freedom,

Stephen Bartlett
Agricultural Missions/ Sustainable Ag of Louisville (SAL, or “salt”)
US Food Sovereignty Alliance (formerly US Food Crisis Working Group)

Statement from the People’s Movement Assembly on Food Sovereignty, US Social
Forum 2010

Over a half-century ago, Mahatma Gandhi led a multitude of Indians to the
sea to make salt-in defiance of the British Empire’s monopoly on this
resource critical to people’s diet. The action catalyzed the fragmented
movement for Indian independence and was the beginning of the end for
Britain’s rule over India. The act of “making salt” has since been repeated
many times in many forms by people’s movements seeking liberation, justice
and sovereignty: Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and the Zapatistas are just a
few of the most prominent examples. Our food movement- one that spans the
globe-seeks food sovereignty from the monopolies that dominate our food
systems with the complicity of our governments. We are powerful, creative,
committed and diverse. It is our time to make salt.

A movement for food sovereignty – the people’s democratic control of the
food system, the right of all people to healthy, culturally appropriate food
produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right
to define their own food and agriculture systems – is building from every
corner of the globe.

We find that our work to build a better food system in the Unites States is
inextricably linked to the struggle for workers’ rights, immigrant’s rights,
women’s rights, the fight to dismantle racism in our communities, and the
struggle for sovereignty in indigenous communities. We find that in order to
create a better food system, we must break up the corporate control of our
seeds, land, water and natural resources.

Because at a time of record harvests and record profits we have over one
billion hungry people on the planet; because poverty is the root cause of
hunger; because the world’s oceans are being polluted and plundered, because
industrial agriculture contributes one third of all greenhouse gas
emissions, because increasing inequality, poverty, hunger, a global land
grab, and environmental destruction are threatening the livelihoods of
family farmers, farmworkers, fisherfolk, and marginalized communities
worldwide; and because community based food systems and agroecological
farming can cool the planet, build resilience to climate change, and
eliminate poverty;

We therefore commit to re-building local food economies in our own
communities, to dismantling structural racism, to democratizing land access,
to building opportunities for the leadership of our youth, and to working
towards food sovereignty in partnership with social movements around the

We call on others in the US to demand an end to the global land grab, to end
both corporate and military land occupations, to demand fairer trade, aid
and investment policies, land reform, and support for sustainable peasant
and community agriculture and sustainable community fisheries;

We endorse actions that include: the liberation of land and water resources
for the production of food and sustainable livelihoods; the creation of new
structures for cooperative ownership of land and food production, processing
and distribution; the integration of labor rights, immigrant’s rights and
food justice; the valuing of women as primary food providers, and the
denouncement of false solutions and false partnerships addressing climate
change, hunger and economic development;

We demand a world in which everyone has control over their food and no one
has to put food in their mouth that hurts people or the environment.
Organizations and individuals among us have therefore committed to the
following actions:

*    Launching a campaign for food sovereignty as a right of the
*    Growing and harvesting as much food as we possibly can
*    Liberating land through reclaiming urban and rural spaces
for the production of food for communities; demanding the use of public
lands for food production
*    Participating in a global campaign against land grabs, in
which corporations and governments grab up the lands of communities
*    Carrying forward the people’s agenda coming out of the
Cochabamba climate summit — including popular education around food and
climate justice and promoting sustainable agriculture as a solution to
climate change
*    Standing with the people of Haiti, Palestine, Honduras, and
other countries whose food sovereignty is threatened by political, military,
and/or corporate occupation
*    Hosting collective meals in our communities as a way of
connecting people across generations and cultural backgrounds and as a tool
for dismantling racism in the food system
*    Forging new models of collective control of land and
waterways; assuring legal protection of the commons
*    Building the leadership of the next generation; providing
opportunities for urban and rural youth to have a future in food and farming
*    Rejecting GMOs and other forms of the corporate takeover of
our food systems
*    Creatively and strategically working to dismantle the
corporations who have hijacked the world’s food systems
*    Affirming the sovereignty of indigenous peoples in North
America and throughout the globe
*    Committing our food movements in the US to be active
participants in the global movement for food sovereignty and to work to stop
our government and corporations from practices that undermine food
sovereignty globally.
*    Challenging US food and agricultural aid and development
policy (e.g., Monsanto and USAID’s recent “donation” of seeds to Haiti)
*    Working towards a people’s food and farm bill based on
principles of food sovereignty
*    Hosting community seed exchanges
*    Engaging communities in popular education on GMOs and the
role of corporations in our food system
*    Engaging communities in popular education on community
nutrition and public health
*    Creating more community farmers markets that are accessible
and affordable to all; affirming everyone’s right to food that is good,
safe, healthy, and fair
*    Helping everyone understand where their food comes from and
who helped bring it to their table
*    Highlighting the common struggles between farmers and
farmworkers in the US and their counterparts throughout the world

We can build a better world. Working together, we can create a world that
respects the human rights of every human being, nurtures creativity and
health, promotes unity, solidarity and peace, and uses resources in a way
that protects the earth and affirms life.

At this historical moment, there is a growing sense of overwhelming crises.

We recognize that the money and other resources that have been swallowed up
by militarization must be redirected to solve human needs-to protect the
basic human needs of food, shelter, freedom of movement, freedom of speech,
freedom from harm, and protection of Mother Earth which nurtures and
sustains all life.

We believe that we can create a new economic system that is not based on
individual, corporate, or private ownership and does not exploit people, the
planet, natural resources or living beings but instead is based on
principles of collectivity and sustains our communities. We must move aside
old systems that have failed and create new ones that serve and are
accountable to all peoples and all living beings.

We must link arms with our sisters and brothers globally and commit to a
willingness to work together to seek understanding, to coordinate action,
and to move forward collectively with a sense of urgency to create a more
just world. We acknowledge the need to break down barriers. We must
integrate our national struggles for the human rights to dignity, welfare,
freedom and justice.

Each one of us has to dig deeper to understand each other’s culture and
history and to build respectful relationships across difference. Our
struggles and our goals are all connected to each other. Our fronts of
struggle and our goals are all on the same continuum. We have the desire and
energy to create something different that sustains us. As a people, we must
rely on each other. We can realize our dreams to treat each other as equals
and to build alliances and relationships across our commonalities and

We affirm self-determination and self-reliance. We believe that we can build
our collective power through participation in popular political education
and organizing collective action. We can each realize the power that resides
within each one of us and build collective power by participating in the
fronts of struggle recognized through the People’s Movement Assemblies. Let
us unite and create a better world for all future living generations. A
better world is possible! Another US is near . . .

Front of struggle:
As older brothers and sisters of this land, we do not want another U.S.; but
the return of our Ancestral homelands and the right to self-determination.
We want others to understand our unique history as the first recipients of
systematic oppression and institutional racism in this hemisphere, to
understand the colonization of our homelands and the exploitation of the
national resources of Turtle Island.

In order to work together, we need non-Indigenous entities to become
educated on our history and issues from our perspectives, to RESPECT and
HONOR our identity, spirituality, traditional ceremonies and related
protocol. We ask that together we work toward the well-being of our
communities, our children, future generations, other life forms, the plant
and animal nations and Sacred Sites. We want others, to RESPECT and HONOR
our expertise in all areas of this land from North to South, and that of
Indigenous peoples respectively on other continents. We want to see more
representation of Indigenous peoples in the USSF planning process and more
Indigenous participation. We want an opening plenary at the next USSF to set
the context of our struggles from our perspectives.

We will take the lead on our own issues as decision makers and we ask for
support on our work in Environmental, Social, and Economic Justice dealing
with issues of: energy development (specifically: TARSANDS, coal, uranium,
gold, gas, and oil, and other extractive industries); green jobs;
disparities due to income, environment, and substance abuse; the banning of
ethnic studies programs; preservation of Indigenous languages and life-ways;
funding for health-care; imposed political borders and immigration issues;
food-sovereignty; protection of Sacred Sites and WATER; repatriation;
privatization of natural resources, and life-forms; commodification and
tokenization of Indigenous images and knowledge; continuity of spiritual and
healing practices; and the unrestricted access to and use of our traditional
medicines and healing practices. We ask you to support us by connecting your
work to the local Indigenous communities’ struggles in your area.

CALL to ACTION: We call for an annual International Day of Action between
October 11-15 to unite against dirty energy projects and to celebrate our
living Indigenous cultures, languages, spiritual practices, sovereignty, and

As the caretakers of the land we have a responsibility to honor, love, and
give back to our Mother Earth, therefore WE DEMAND that the governments of
the U.S. and Canada fully adopt the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples without qualifications. We support the existing actions
and policies that promote our work by other entities, such as Bolivia’s
Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. We will move forward by working
together collaboratively, involving Youth and Elders, to heal from external
and internalized oppression to restore BALANCE and to build healthy
relationships around the world.

Posted in Agra Watch Blog Posts, Food Justice Blog Posts, News, Trade Justice Blog Posts, Uncategorized.

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