I am a family farmer from the state of Missouri in the United States. I am president of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and I am also the president of the National Family Farm Coalition where we have 36 organizations located in 35 different states. We are also members of Via Campesina, the international peasant and family farmers' union, and we work with the Confederation Paysanne in France.
We are in Millau today to testify on behalf of our fellow farmers from the good country of France who are being questioned here for the action they took in their quest for economic and social justice. Corporate globalization, flawed agriculture and trade policy is the real problem. These farmers made an effort to abide by the law when looking for a solution to the problem. There was no recourse for the farmers.
In a larger sense these proceedings are about food security for the people of the world. The World Trade Organization has no place at the table for the food producers of the world, yet they negatively impact the livelihood of farmers everywhere. The issue of hormone beef and Roquefort cheese is only one example.
Many farmers in the United States financially assisted these farmers to be released from prison. Civil disobedience, when done in the right way, is one root of democracy and I would point to a 145-day protest that we did in my hometown against government policy. The result of that was new laws by Congress that benefited farmers and consumers. If Rosa Parks had gone to the back of the bus, there might not be laws against racial discrimination in the United States. I leave you with a quote from a most revered president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln: "Public dissent is sometimes stronger than the laws.
|Published in In Motion Magazine - August 7, 2000|
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