Farmers’ Protests in India and Compassionate Eating

Wondering about the farmers’ protests in India? Read the summary below from The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and other racial and food justice organizations about why the protests are important, including the ability to make a living growing vegetables, rather than animals.

Compassionate Action for Animals signed on to their statement of support that will be delivered to those protesting, joining Food Empowerment Project and others in solidarity. Change in India could help pave the way for a more equitable, compassionate food infrastructure in the United States, as well.

This excerpt from the statement we signed provides more information:

“One of the key demands of the movement is for farmers to receive a Minimum Support Price (MSP) — currently assured for just a few crops — for all produce, including vegetables, which are essential for healthy diets. This would ensure that farmers in India, already burdened by huge debts, receive a fair price for their produce. MSP is the price at which the Indian government also buys staple grains, like wheat and rice, from farmers for its public food programs so that the poor can access subsidized grains.

Image by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay

While the Indian government only procures a small percentage for its food programs, the MSP is a key price signal to other traders in India, and it ensures that farmers receive a fair price for these specific crops. We recognize the role of the U.S. government in creating the conditions that have led to these repressive laws. The U.S. has been a key opponent of India’s limited use of MSP at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S., with Australia, Canada and European allies, has claimed that India’s MSP distorts trade. But, that is not surprising: the U.S. government has been eroding the concept of parity (similar to MSP in India) at home for decades.

There is an opportunity for the Biden administration to shift U.S. trade policy to allow other countries to support fair markets for their farmers and shift agricultural policy to ensure that our food providers make a living wage. While the U.S. agricultural sector receives inordinately large support compared to many countries, access to that support remains inequitable. In particular, Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian-Pacific and other people of color producers, who lack secure land tenure and are concentrated in vegetable and small-scale cattle sectors, have been excluded historically. Support flows to larger agribusiness farming operations instead of the independent family farmers whose voices we amplify.

Let us be clear: what the Indian farmers are enduring now happened in the U.S. almost four decades ago. The Reagan era furthered the farm crisis through deliberate federal policy changes, with systematic erosion of parity prices and other deregulatory efforts. “Get big or get out” has been our government’s mantra. Farmers with the means to consolidate have been rewarded for growing monoculture commodities. Tribal nations and traditional producers as well as small farmers who have always practiced or shifted to diversified agroecological farming have effectively been subsidizing the U.S. agriculture sector. It is rare for these food producers to make a living without supplemental income. Unsurprisingly, farm suicides in rural America are 45% higher than the rest of the population.”

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