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2020 U.S. ELECTIONS: Update for Food & Farm Activists

This is my latest update on the 2020 U.S. elections for three food & farm listservs — COMFOOD (Tufts U.), Food Policy Networks (Johns Hopkins U.), Regeneration Midwest (a 12-state coalition). These networks are committed to food justice, farm justice, democracy through food policy councils, urban-rural coalitions, thriving local economies, good health for all, as well as clean air, clean water, healthy soils, and biodiversity.


1.  Mark Charles, independent
2. Green Party
3.  Joe Biden, Democrat
B.  NEW BOOK on anti-trust 
Break ‘Em Up: Recovering our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money
C.  NEW ESSAY by John Ikerd  
U.S. Farm Policy Alternatives for 2020
1.  Documentary film Represent
Three women candidates during campaign, including an Ohio farmer
2.  Earth to Tables Legacies:  
Women’s participation in assemblies in Oaxaca, Mexico


1.  MARK CHARLES, independent candidate for U.S. President, announces running mate: 
SEDINEM MOYOWASIFZA-CURRY, 4th generation farming family, for Vice President
(formerly a Green Party candidate for president)

–Mark Charles
–Sedinem Moyowasifza-Curry 
–Mark  @wirelesshogan
–Sedinem  @skcmcurry

I challenge anyone on these listservs (and every U.S. voter) to read Mark Charles’s platform and not breathe a sign of relief that finally, a candidate for U.S. president is thinking clearly, speaking truth, and has a plan for getting all Americans on the same page—starting with the U.S. Constitution. No one has to commit to voting for this ticket, but everyone will be doing themselves a favor by reading and listening to this team’s framework for getting this country on track—for the first time ever.

In my opinion, every candidate for U.S. Congress in 2020 would also benefit from adopting Mark Charles’s basic platform. And they would be doing the entire country a favor if they did so.

Yesterday, I Tweeted (slightly edited):
No one better to disabuse us of the myth of American Exceptionalism than:

A Navajo Christian man & a Black woman from a 4th generation farm family running for U.S. President & Vice President talking about
—the Doctrine of Discovery
—a Truth & Conciliation Commission on “race, gender, and class”
–Do we want “We the People” to mean “All the People”?

Speeches (from virtual convention, July 25, 2020)
36-1:05 Mark Charles
1:20-1:30 Sedinem Moyowasifza-Curry
1:35-1:45 Campaign strategy, focusing especially on millenials and Gen Z

First 100 Days plan
“Remove racism, sexism, and white supremacy from the U.S. Constitution.”
Add “value life” to the Preamable.
(This has nothing to do with an anti-abortion agenda and is specifically not anti-abortion.)

Policies page 
No specific food & farm policies have been posted yet.  But both Mark and Sedinem are clear on DEEP climate mitigation policies,  I look forward to seeing Sedinem’s impact on forthcoming policy statements, especially about food and farm.

Ballot access page
Check your state to see if the Mark Charles ticket will be on the ballot or running as a write-in.The campaign is looking for volunteer help to get on the ballot and/or to be electors (should they win a particular state).

Campaign strategy
Sign-up for the campaign newsletter or just listen to some of Mark Charles’s videos. He talks very clearly about his campaign strategy — targeting ALL Americans, but especially millenials and Gen Z.

2. GREEN PARTY announces presidential ticket at virtual convention (July 11)
Howie Hawkins — candidate for President
Angela Walker —candidate for Vice President

Short speeches

I think many food & farm activists are familiar with the food & farm platform of Howie Hawkins and the Green Party. I’ve always felt that the Green Party’s platforms are way too complicated and the Party doesn’t prioritize well. Looking at this year’s platform, I see more of the same, even though I probably agree with most of the individual planks. Nevertheless, the details are worth reading, especially for people who might be new to food & farm policy.

3. JOE BIDEN, Democrat — VP choice?
Yesterday, Biden’s campaign said that they will announce the Vice Presidential candidate during the first week of August — next week!

Wondering if any food & farm groups are actively promoting specific candidates for VP. Apart from the final platform, this is the last major decision in which we can influence the Democrats. I think it’s worth organizing around.

None of the women being discussed seem to have very strong food & farm track records, but here’s a couple details.

a.  U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA13 — Oakland)
I have been promoting Rep. Lee for a variety of reasons. Last week, I Tweeted to my local Indivisible chapter (Indivisible Evanston, who was hosting a discussion with Biden campaign staff):

Re:  Generating excitement for Dem nominee:
In my opinion, the only way to get a supermajority of U.S. voters voting for Biden is if the VP choice is U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA13).
–most experience
–most intersectional
–best on foreign policy
–no baggage that I know of
–a true stateswoman

I would also add that, should the need arise, Rep. Lee would be the most qualified to become President at a moment’s notice.  (She beats out Sen. Warren on that metric because of her foreign policy expertise.)

On the Food First website, I came across this bit of history:
“In the new millennium, Food First continued to analyze the ways economic globalization impacts the food system and jeopardizes people’s human rights. In conjunction with the offices of Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), Food First staff convened a 2003 congressional briefing on the impacts of trade policies on US workers.” 

b.  U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (CA37 — south central Los Angeles)
Last week, United Farmworkers co-founder Dolores Huerta endorsed Rep. Karen Bass for VP candidate.  The endorsement was made in an exclusive interview by Mike Elk, labor reporter, in his Payday Report (July 22, 2020).  

Neither Elk nor Huerta mention any specific food and farm activity, Huerta praised Bass’s community organizing skills — “She builds from the bottom up”  and “…probably a lot of people don’t know who she is, but people in my world, the activist world, we know who Karen Bass is.”

B.  NEW BOOK on anti-trust including agribusiness
just published July 28, 2020

Break ‘Em Up: Recovering our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money
by Zephyr Teachout
Fordham University law professor; former candidate for New York governor

I only was able to read the introduction, but I think this is going to be an invaluable book for food & farm activists. Intended to be a roadmap, at the end of the Introduction Teachout offers “…a sample list of companies that should no longer exist in their current form two years from now. If you read nothing else, tear out this page and tack it on your refrigerator.”

Amazon Google Monsanto/Bayer Spectrum Pfizer Uber Visa Unilever Verizon Exxon Bank of America Citibank Common Spirit Health Disney CVS Nestle UnitedHealthcare Blue Cross/Blue Shield Comcast Boeing Walmart

C.  NEW ESSAY by John Ikerd
emeritus economist at University of Missouri

U.S. Farm Policy Alternatives for 2020
Economic Pamphleteer, July 21, 2020

Some select quotes:
“Arguably, the outcomes of past general elections, since at least the 1970s, have made relatively little difference in U.S. farm policies. The farm-state Democrats and Republications who write the farm bills have generally agreed on the broad out-lines of farm policy. But this year will be different in one regard. Concerns among farmers, as well as the general public, about in-creased weather volatility will likely force both parties to address the issue of climate change.”

“Current crop insurance programs would be replaced with a Whole-Farm Net Revenue Insurance program that would share the risks of tran-sitioning to regenerative, sustainable farming systems by guaranteeing farm family income on parity with nonfarm family incomes. To qualify, existing or beginning farmers would be required to submit an approved whole-farm plan for establishing a regenerative whole-farm system. Government transition incentives would be in the form of guaranteed tax credits, similar to those in the current earned income tax credit (Internal Revenue Service, n.d.). 

“Existing farm programs would be used to facilitate the transition.”…

“Publicly funded agricultural research and education programs would be shifted from their current focus on productivity and economic efficiency to regenerative farming and agricultural sustainability.”…

“A complete transformation of farm policies will not be accomplished in the 2020 elections or the 2023 farm bill. However, for the first time in 50 years, there is an opportunity to begin creating a better future for American agriculture by reshaping U.S. farm policy.” 


1.  DOCUMENTARY FILM REPRESENT:  Opening in virtual theaters August 14, nationwide
Trailer, bookings, etc. Music Box Films

This film follows three first-time women candidates, including one Ohio farmer. The world premiere had been scheduled for the end of March in Cleveland.  I believe some kind of event did take place, but not with the fanfare and immediate wide release that usually accompanies a new release. Now it’s being released more widely.

Cities currently scheduled: Chicago, IL Cleveland, OH Columbus, OH Denver, CO Detroit, MI Hudson, NY Iowa City, IA Los Angeles, CA Rochester, NY Stamford, CT


Thanks to Molly Anderson (Prof. of Food Studies, Middlebury College) for sharing this “unusual and beautiful project” featuring food activists in different places and cultures. I have only explored a little so far, but here is a section on women and power, as described by Gustavo Esteva of UniTierra in Oaxaca, Mexico.

La Comida
“The work on la comida is directly connected to UniTierra’s commitment to ending patriarchy and promoting autonomy.

“If we do return la comida as a central activity, then we also return the centrality of women. Because it is women who take care of the world, take care of life, take care of the comida. Women are not just the cooks, they are responsible for everything that precedes the act of eating, and the ceremony of la comida. Today, in the midst of the food crisis, small farmers, mainly women, feed 70% of the people on Earth, in spite of the fact that agribusiness owns and controls more than half of all the food resources on the planet. While there are several men participating in UniTierra’s Milpa3 project, all three programs under COMER (green rooftop garden, milpa and urban gardens) are coordinated by women.

“There is a consensus that we’re at the end of a historical cycle and living the death of 5,000 years of patriarchy. Patriarchy – the hatred of life, which is manifested in extreme violence, extreme hierarchy, extreme authoritarianism, which we see in the world today – is dying. The violence is its extreme form of defending itself.”

….”Here’s a very concrete living example: In the last 10 years, 8,000 of the 12,000 communities in Oaxaca have gathered assemblies of men and women, realizing that for centuries they hadn’t had women participating in the assembly, but they now decided that women should participate. It’s been part of a process we call the feminization of politics. Many women started to organize themselves and take leadership in social change.

“So women in most communities are now part of the communal assemblies and have leadership positions in the villages. At the same time they are paying a high price – violence against them has increased a lot.
“An important factor is that when many men migrated to the U.S., they left everything in the hands of the women, and when they came back, the women wouldn’t give them back the power. This has been a very substantial change.”.