Farmers and their unions in Eastern and Central Europe, are mobilizing in large numbers against growing economic distress. They have expressed their rejection of provisions in the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Green Deal, and against the high cost of production and low incomes, import of tariff-free grains from Ukraine war efforts, and exhaustive bureaucratic procedures in farm-related laws and regulations. Farmers affiliated with the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic (AKCR), Slovak Chamber of Agriculture and Food Industry, unions in Poland, and many others participated in rallies and road blocks on February 22, demanding concrete policy measures from their respective governments and the European Union (EU) in solving their grievances.
The story of multinational corporations taking land and resources from working people can be found all over the world. In Colombia, farming families have joined forces to reclaim their stolen land and defend it from local security forces acting on behalf of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation. The Real News reports from Arauquita, Colombia, on the frontlines of a land defenders’ campaign that stretches back decades. In Arauquita, Northeast Colombia, 150 farming families were displaced from this land 20 years ago. It’s been exploited by the Occidental Petroleum Corporation ever since. However, the farmers returned to reclaim their land.
The protesting farmers in Greece decided to continue their agitations across the country with demands such as duty-free agricultural diesel, reduced electricity costs, and subsidies on supplies and animal feed, as negotiations with the government on February 13 yielded no results. A week-long protest, including rallies and blockades in major motorways across Greece, forced the New Democracy (ND) government to call the farmers’ groups for negotiations on Tuesday. The farmer’s unions rejected the meager concessions on electricity prices offered by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. They demanded effective measures for renegotiating the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), full compensation for lost income during floods, and a cessation of labeling non-Greek produce as Greek.
Indian farmers from the State of Punjab began a protest march towards the national capital, New Delhi on February 13, Tuesday, to raise longstanding demands that have gone unfulfilled by the Union government. Cement blocks, metal barricades, barbed wire, and iron nails were erected on the borders of Delhi and in the State of Haryana on Tuesday to stop the farmers, similar to the blockades that had been set up over two years ago, when farmers had first marched on Delhi to demand their rights. The “Delhi Chalo” protest on Tuesday was organized by over 250 farmers’ unions under the umbrella of the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM– Peasant-Worker Front) and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non political), comprised of over 150 farmers unions and a breakaway platform from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a group of over 500 unions, which had organized the historic protests of 2020-21.
In a win for farmers and endangered plants and wildlife, an Arizona district court has revoked the approval of the destructive pesticide dicamba, saying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broke the law when it allowed it to be on the market. Dicamba-based weedkillers have been widely used on soybean and cotton crops genetically engineered by Bayer (formerly Monsanto), a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity — who brought the lawsuit — said. “This is a vital victory for farmers and the environment,” said George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case, in the press release.
A network of climate science deniers has been accused of “hijacking” rural concerns over a new social media campaign “to save the farming industry”. ‘No Farmers, No Food’ has gained over 50,000 followers on X in the fortnight since its launch, which was framed as a response to the widespread farmers’ protests sweeping across Europe. The campaign, which started in the UK, has rapidly won support from a number of international pundits, from Canadian climate science denier Jordan Peterson, to Fox News contributor and host Tomi Lahren, who has called climate change a “hoax”. Populist politicians in the UK and elsewhere have also declared their support.
Across France, Italy and Belgium last week thousands of farmers descended on capital cities to express their deep discontent with the European food system. The scenes were dramatic. Parked tractors brought traffic to a standstill in Paris, and on Thursday burning piles of hay and debris sent up huge, dark plumes of smoke in Brussels. The protests show no sign of slowing down and are expected this week across Italy, Slovenia and Spain. Farmers’ demonstrations have been portrayed as a revolt against net zero, by the media and far-right groups. This is the message received by governments – and they are acting on it. So far, the farmers have won key concessions.
As French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, under new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, moves ever further to the right, a radical mass movement is again shaking the country. Last year, the biggest workers’ movement for decades mobilised millions across the country in an attempt to defend retirement pensions. This year it is the turn of the farmers to revolt. Six thousand tractors were present at 120 blockades, and at least 16 motorways were brought to a standstill on January 30. Regional government headquarters have been covered with manure, and hypermarket distribution centres — as well as Toulouse airport — paralysed.
All across Europe, farmers are making their voices heard. In Belgium too, actions and blockages have been taking place across the country. The movement, which started from the base, is supported by agricultural unions, both in the south and the north of the country. “It is not normal that farmers cannot make a living from their work, we support their mobilization,” declares PTB president Raoul Hedebouw. For the agricultural world, the cup is full and the anger is deep. The reasons for this are numerous. Production costs have increased sharply for farmers in recent years, as have prices for the consumer. However, farmers do not sell their products more expensively.
In the run-up to this year’s COP28 summit in Dubai, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres railed against the scourge of global hunger and climate devastation fuelled by farming. “Global food systems are broken, and billions of people are paying the price,” he said – and he was right. Our food system is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet fails to feed the world, with a tenth of humanity experiencing hunger. For years, this issue has been sidelined at climate summits, but at COP28 it was catapulted to centre stage, with an entire day of the agenda dedicated to food and agriculture.
It’s 1935 and class war is brewing in Arkansas. Standing before 1,500 black and white sharecroppers, the radical Methodist minister Ward Rodgers thunders, “I can lead a mob to lynch any planter in Poinsett County.” The crowd erupts with applause. These white and black sharecroppers who worked, lived, and died amid the vestiges of the Southern plantation system were no strangers to terror. The night before, a group of planters and deputy sheriffs had attacked an adult education class taught by Rodgers. The landowner class, the banks, the police, and an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan called the Nightriders had been engaged in a brutal crackdown on the workers of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Lobbyists from industrial agriculture companies and trade groups have turned out in record numbers at COP28, which this year has a strong focus on tackling emissions from the food sector. Attendees are present from some of the world’s largest agribusiness firms – such as meatpacker JBS, fertiliser giant Nutrien, food giant Nestlé and pesticide firm Bayer – and powerful industry trade groups. Meat and dairy interests are especially well represented with 120 delegates in Dubai, triple the number that attended COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Overall the analysis of the delegates list by DeSmog shows that the total number of people representing the interests of agribusiness has more than doubled since 2022 to reach 340.
On Thanksgiving, families across America are gathering around tables to enjoy the season’s bounty. Yet, behind the scenes, a complex web of challenges threatens the agricultural foundation of this tradition. The recent one-year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill by Congress has brought temporary relief, but the call for a new, comprehensive five-year farm bill echoes loudly. Wisconsin Farmers Union is raising its voice, emphasizing the urgent need to address issues plaguing family farmers and the agricultural sector as a whole. Gratitude for the bipartisan support in extending the 2018 Farm Bill is tempered by a pressing reality: the long-term stability of family farmers still hinges on a new, five-year farm bill.
Located in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands, the district of Mbarali in the Mbeya region has long been considered the country’s “rice basket”. However, for the past year, smallholder farmers in the area have been unable to cultivate the grain even to securely feed themselves, let alone produce for the market. These farmers are among 21,252 people in Mbarali who are facing eviction from their land under the guise of a ‘biodiversity conservation’ project— namely, the expansion of the Ruaha National Park (RUNAPA) — being undertaken by the Tanzanian government, with funding from the World Bank.
On October 3, 2023, five hundred Delhi Police officers fanned across India’s capital to raid and detain almost a hundred journalists and researchers. The Delhi Police — which is under the authority of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs — seized laptops, cell phones, and hard drives. The central target of this massive assault on the media was Newsclick, a news website founded in 2009. At the end of the day, the Delhi Police arrested Newsclick’s founder and chief editor, Prabir Purkayastha, and its human relations chief, Amit Chakravarty. One issue, among others, had the Delhi Police investigators fixated: the Indian farmers’ movement, which culminated in a massive protest between 2020 and 2021.