It has been another year of building solidarity amongst those committed to radical transformation to a food system that is nutritious, delicious, ecologically-sound, and socially-just for all. A year of coming together to fight corporate capture of food systems locally and globally, and the second year of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It has also been a year of significant deepening of the AFSA National Committee’s understanding of ways we can strive to decolonise our movement, and enact our solidarity with First Peoples.
As you’ll read further on, our movements need now more than ever to build solidarity and strength if we want to have any hope of prevailing against the accelerating corporate capture of our food and agriculture systems and the bodies that govern them. When the Australian Government next proposes to develop a National Food Plan–the catalyst for the founding of AFSA in 2010–we need to be ready.
The good news is that unlike a decade ago, we are ready.
First, we have made progress on enacting solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. First Peoples have long articulated colonialism’s effect on Country: that it is hurt, and in need of healing. As we attempt to reset relations, we know that healing happens from the ground up, for ‘when you heal Country, you heal yourself’ (Graham 2021). These Indigenous notions of Country direct us to understand the ultimate life-giving, nourishing and nurturing role of Country in providing food.
Global food systems have been failing people for a long time, and the voices of Indigenous peoples are often excluded from the conversations of sustainable food systems they should be driving. Food sovereignty centres knowledges that are place-based, offering a political vision and framework for asserting everyone’s right to nutritious and culturally appropriate food produced and distributed in ethical and ecologically sound ways, and our right to democratically determine our own food and agriculture systems.
AFSA aims to achieve both Indigenous sovereignty, and food sovereignty for all. We are working with farmers and allies who are embracing and espousing a custodial ethic to understand how they are currently, or may in future, be able to extend their care for land to care for its Original Owners, bringing settler descendants full circle to find ways and means of restitution of land and rights to First Peoples. It is a priority for us to listen to First Peoples at every opportunity for guidance on our way, and we have spent this year developing a draft First Peoples First Strategy that we welcome all to read and provide feedback. The Strategy is a living document, intended to evolve and respond to good ideas that find it.
Since the beginning of the pandemic AFSA has hosted regular Solidarity Sessions on Zoom, all of which are available on our Youtube channel. These sessions are an explicit attempt to build more alliances amongst like-minded and active organisations working in various ways for food sovereignty. Since our last AGM, we held sessions on:
- Indigenous Thinking with Tyson Yunkaporta
- Farming Democracy, Food Sovereignty, and Farm Journeys
- Solidarity with Lock the Gate
- Small-scale abattoirs and local food economies
- Fostering agroecology with farmer-led knowledge with Peter Rosset
- Pastured poultry for agroecological systems
- Collaborations on Country with Nguurruu Farm
- Solidarity and the UN Food Systems Summit
We are looking forward to sessions in future on a Small Farm Future with farmer and author Chris Smaje, and another on the theme of Chix Composting Capitalism, as well as others – drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an idea for a session!
In our efforts to actively support an agroecological transition in Australia, we have also made good progress. We launched the Agroecology Workshops this year, hosting a few dozen farmers and would-be farmers at Jonai Farms in Victoria, and Echo Valley Farm in Queensland, with a third workshop unable to run at Belvedere Farm due to lockdowns planned to go ahead soon. The Agroecology Action Research Network (AARN) has done some preliminary outreach to academics and farmers to gauge interest in farmer-led collaborations, and we look forward to increasing our activities in the coming year once we have paid staff again. We also enjoyed a wide-ranging and astutely political discussion with the legendary Peter Rosset on what a farmer-led agroecological transition can and does look like around the world.
A major focus for me personally this year has been on biodiversity. You’ll see in the international report below AFSA’s involvement in the current UN process to develop a Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). In addition to this work, the PhD I commenced in 2020 is around the biodiverse and decolonising practices and politics of small-scale farmers, and the ways in which various levels of government hinder or enable these efforts. In my own shire, I’m actively advocating for the inclusion of agricultural biodiversity in the draft biodiversity policy, just as we are in the GBF, and last month I spoke at the Wimmera Biodiversity series online about all of this work, with a focus on acknowledging that Indigenous Peoples globally are the world’s best custodians of biodiversity.
Here at Jonai Farms on the unceded lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung, we pay respect to Elders past and present. At our Monday morning meeting, we commence by asking what the Land is telling us, and we let that guide our priorities for the week. We also recently added a bird sharing item to our agenda – one community member each week teaches us about the habitat, eating and breeding habits, migration patterns, and songs of birds we see in our environment. We are using this so that a better knowledge of these indicator species will deepen our understanding of our ecosystem – to know that spring is truly on its way when the Welcome Swallows return, and that the Grey Shrike Thrushes have sufficient understory for a happy habitat (they also love living next to a butcher’s shop).
We are actively learning to listen to Country, and to use our place-based understandings here on Djaara Country to inform our advocacy efforts with Council and the state government, all the way to the (virtual for now) corridors of the United Nations.
It’s been an honour once again to serve as AFSA President and contribute what I can to our ever-strengthening movement. I’d like to thank the 2020-21 National Committee and former Administrative Assistant Amida Cumming for all your efforts to grow and build a beautiful new world to make the industrial one obsolete!
Viva la revolución!
Tammi Jonas, President
AFSA finishes this year in a strong financial position with just over $56,000 in the bank. We did return a small loss of $1,898 due to a number of factors. We had no ability to host live events, and we failed to pursue another planned book project as all our volunteer committee members have been at capacity with farms, families, jobs, and a pandemic. Ongoing issues with our membership platform have caused us no end of grief and foregone income. Due to errors in the system, many frustrated would-be new or returning members have simply given up trying to join, or have continued to be charged membership at 2016 rates (as low as $20, when we have had a sliding scale of $50-$500 since 2018). We estimate that with our membership at 371 we should see over $40,000 in fees, but in fact only received about $18,000 this year.
Now that the Committee have at last turned our focused attention to the problem, we intend to migrate our current website to a new one with fully functioning and simple membership management.
We are not budgeting for in-person events in 2022 in keeping with the uncertainty of these times. If things should change and make an event feasible, we will organise it only if it can run on a cost recovery basis.
We look forward to launching a fresh and better-functioning website in the near future, and welcoming members old and new to a positive user experience when joining!
Our membership at AGM last year was 291 and is now 371, which is nothing short of a miracle given the ongoing very serious limitations and glitches in the membership plugin on our website which has prevented a number of people joining or renewing. Steps are urgently being taken to rectify this issue.
The growth in membership can largely be attributed to the significant organising work done by the Committee and our membership more generally, sharing messages about the importance of AFSA’s work and asking that their friends and community members join them in supporting that work.
We look forward to the next year being one of continued growth as we continue to navigate organising and recruitment in a pandemic.
It was another busy year for the AFSA Legal Defence Fund (LDF), providing lots of advice and guidance to members and writing several submissions to all levels of government.
As in previous years, most requests for advice we receive are around planning issues for pastured pigs and poultry as provisions in most states still fail to fairly account for small-scale low-density mobile outdoor production models. While we won significant reforms in Victoria in 2018, it seems most council planners are still operating in the old mindset and adhering to outdated legislation. We are in regular discussions with the Minister for Agriculture and the team at Ag Vic to try and address these ongoing issues, and are developing stronger links with the Queensland state government.
Another exciting area of increasing activity for our legal team is supporting FOOPL’s work in drafting share farming agreements. It is heartening to see the number of young and emerging farmers connecting with landholders for a mutually beneficial relationship that helps the Land and farmers flourish in their agroecological efforts. You can read our Guiding Principles for Share Farming Agreements on the AFSA website.
Below you can see a de-identified summary of advice given to members and to politicians and public servants, and our submissions to government.
NB: Farms have been de-identified for privacy.
|22-28/10/2020||Anonymous (NSW)||Amendment of lease of land to avoid “deemed subdivision” consequences (amend so successive 5 year terms rather than 3+3+3), advice on lease registration under NSW land interest registering regulations|
|26-28/10/2020||Anonymous (Qld)||Planning advice – pastured poultry (Lockyer Valley)|
|4/11/2020||AFSA||Attendance at second Mornington Peninsula Food Economy and Agroecology Focus Group|
|6/11/2020||AFSA||Advice re AFSA being the applicant for council permits for REKO Moreton Bay|
|10/11/2020||Community Voice||Advice re public apology/defamation (Facebook)|
|20/11/2020||AFSA||Advice re extension of non-Primesafe regulation to farmgates (currently farmers markets not Primesafe regulated)|
|20/11/2020||AFSA||Research on proposed new Animal Welfare legislation (Vic) – sentience being the key theme|
|4/12/2020||AFSA||Letter to Vic Minister for Ag re where the 2015 commitment to extend the farmers market meat sales exemption to farm gates is at|
|4/12/2020||AFSA||FSANZ – application for irradiation of all fruit and vegetables (assessed as not in AFSA’s remit but AFSA logo shared with Gene Ethics for use)|
|14/12/2020||Anonymous (VIC)||Advice on planning – cow shed and LDMO pastured pork permits|
|29/1/2021||AFSA||Wild Game Meat Regulations (Vic, Qld) research for Local Food Economies campaign|
|29/1/2021 – 1/2/2021||Lockyer Valley farmers (Qld)||Definition of “free range poultry/pig” for new planning scheme, based on Vic LDMO guidelines|
|9/2/2021||AFSA||Research into proposed standard conditions for new or expanded commercial cropping and horticultural activities in the Great Barrier Reef catchments|
|10/2/2021||Anonymous (NSW)||Research/response to query re on farm abattoir – Bega Valley Shire|
|15/2/2021||Anonymous (VIC)||Planning research and advice – on farm abattoir|
|15/2/2021||Organic Farmers in WA||Initial discussions with ORICoop on potential action for land contamination by organic farmers|
|16/2/2021||AFSA||MOU – REKO Moreton Bay, building in council approval conditions (AFSA as approval owner)|
|18/2/2021||Various (potential impact on farmers)||Attendance at EPA Waste Determination Information Session (manure being declared “industrial waste”)|
|19/2/2021||Anonymous (NSW)||Research and advice re on-farm beef processing|
|22/2/2021||AFSA||Meeting with intern re regulatory research project for Local Food Economies campaign, research into farmgate sales Qld, pastured pork and poultry Qld, wild game meat Qld|
|24/2/2021||Anonymous (NSW)||Research into Meat Safety Inspector and Animal Welfare Officer qualifications|
|11/3/2021||Anonymous (NSW)||Advice on non-acceptance of herdshare arrangements in Australia for raw milk/on farm slaughter|
|20/4/2021||Ag Vic (pre public consultation)||Draft Meat Industry Act proposals|
|20/4/2021||AFSA||Review of online consultation process/content – Review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 – draft Regulatory Impact Statement (Food Regulation Modernisation – Cth Dept of Health)|
|7/5/2021||AFSA||Meeting with the director of (and staff from) the Food Regulation and Biosecurity Policy unit of the DJPR re amendments to the Meat Industry Act to enable small-scale meat farmers to store/sell their pre-packaged meat from their farms without a Primesafe licence (just a class 2 council registration).|
|3/8/2021||Anonymous (VIC)||Research/advice on Vic local council’s proposal to rezone land from FZ to RCZ|
|11/8/2021||Anonymous (VIC)||Attendance at Macedon Ranges Shire Council information evening re proposed zoning changes|
|13/8-27/8/2021||Anonymous (VIC)||Research and advice, drafting email to MRSC on proposed zoning changes|
|26/8/2021||AFSA||Attendance at DPJR meeting re planning code changes|
|Date||Regulator||Submission Title and Summary|
|2/2/2021 – 5/2/2021||Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Vic)||Planning for Melbourne’s Green Wedges and Agricultural Land Submission|
|25-26/2/2021||Panel – Independent Review of the AgVet Chemicals Regulatory Framework||Independent Review of the Agvet Chemicals Submission (summarising our international and regulatory concerns with path the review panel is taking)|
|25/6-12/8/2021||Federal Senate Inquiry||Definitions of Meat and Other Animal Products (raising AFSA’s concerns with labelling and composition of plant-based “meat”)|
|1/7/2021||ACCC||JBS Australia’s proposed acquisition of Rivalea Holdings and Oxdale Dairy Enterprise|
|27/8/2021||Macedon Ranges Shire Council||Draft Rural Land Use Strategy|
Farming on Other People’s Land (FOOPL) was established in 2019 with aims to support and encourage new farming ventures on existing farms and underutilized land, and to advocate for easier access to land for those who wish to farm in an ethical and ecologically-sound manner, and inform the wider community of benefits in doing so.
We acknowledge that in Australia all non-Indigenous people are farming on other people’s land, and are striving to support Indigenous sovereignty, to form solidarities to decolonise agriculture, and to pay the rent.
FOOPL’s initial primary focus has been to draft share-farming agreements for our members. These are building quite a resource base for AFSA members, and we have now developed a set of guiding principles for farmers thinking of entering a share-farming agreement.
The People’s Autonomous Response to the UN Food Systems Summit conducted an incredibly successful Peoples’ Counter Mobilization against the FSS on the 25 – 28 July to “Rise up against corporate food systems!” and instead create #FoodSystems4People. There were extensive resources, including press releases, news articles, academic articles,declarations and videos associated with the UNFSS and Counter Mobilization, which are available here. A summary of the reasons why the boycott of the Summit was occurring included: not being based on human and peoples’ rights; dominated by corporate interests; promoted highly problematic models of governance based on multistakeholderism; promoted a very narrow concept of science and frontally attacks the existing High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the CFS; drove transformation of food systems into the wrong direction and maintenance of industrial food systems; promoted multi-stakeholder platforms as a replacement of public institutions on the national, regional and global levels; and did not provide solutions to combat malnutrition, hunger nor the climate crisis and ignores what is most needed and urgent.
AFSA joined the boycott of the UNFSS by sharing posts on social media with #notinournames and asked members to do the same. Tammi spoke at the Asia Pacific event – How to build public support for food sovereignty and Right to Food in Asia? and did an Instagram Live with Alexx Stuart from Low Tox Life
The UNFSS was held on 23 September 2021. The Peoples’ Autonomous Response released a political declaration which has received 1006 signatories (!) (as of 14 October). The Liaison Group of the Peoples’ Autonomous Response to UN FSS released a report “Exposing corporate capture of the UNFSS through multistakeholderism” including powerful infographics and illustrations which were used on social media during the UNFSS. Regional mobilisations were also held in Africa, Asia and North America.
In Australia, AFSA held a Solidarity Session titled – Solidarity and the UNFSS with a diverse range of speakers including Tim McCartney (Barengi Gadjin Land Council), Charlie Arnott (Regenerative Journey podcast), Vivien Yii (Right to Food Coalition), Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia) and Tammi Jonas (AFSA) with Alexx Stuart (LowTox Life) to discuss what the UNFSS might mean for First Peoples, small-scale farmers, regenerative broad acre farmers, the food insecure and city folk, and how we can all prevent ongoing corporate capture of our food systems. There were approximately 60 attendees. Tammi also wrote an article published in Development – Peoples’ Solutions to Food Systems Transformation in Asia and the Pacific and a blog “Solidarity and the UNFSS”.
The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) is an autonomous and self-organised global platform of small-scale food producers and rural workers organisations and grassroots/community-based social movements whose goal is to advance the food sovereignty agenda at the global and regional level. More than 6000 organizations and 300 million small-scale food producers self-organise through the IPC, sharing the principles and the 6 pillars of Food Sovereignty as outlined in the Nyeleni 2007 Declaration and synthesis report. AFSA has been a member of the IPC since 2013, and we are part of the Asia Pacific regional coordination, as well as members of several working groups.
When COVID-19 first arrived in Italy, Tammi was in Rome at the start of the CBD process to develop a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). Due to the pandemic, the process has been delayed and extended, and is now due to conclude at the second session of COP 15 in Kunming, China in May 2022. Virtual meetings over these months have typically been held in the middle of the night here in Australia, making participation especially challenging.
Since the rise of industrial agriculture during the Green Revolution, biodiversity has been considered incompatible with agriculture – something that happens on the other side of the fence, or only in shelter belts. Even the current work towards a GBF takes a productivist approach in its limited attention to agriculture, and a colonial approach to conservation in proposals to lock up more land away from sustainable human use. This is a fundamental violation of Indigenous Peoples’ and peasants’ right to land, and a denial of the thousands of years of care and co-production with Nature.
We have made several public presentations and interventions in CBD sessions over the past two years advocating for more consideration of agricultural biodiversity and the rights of peasants and Indigenous Peoples, with some successes along the way, for example, a written intervention in May. Tammi represented smallholders in a CBD Stakeholder Open Webinar on Sustainable Agriculture & the GBF.
The IPC held a Virtual General Meeting in May and June, bringing the movement together for several days of sharing our struggles and strategising for the time ahead. Key concerns raised included:
o steadily increasing corporate capture of UN spaces, including Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
o moves toward ‘multistakeholderism’ rather than ‘multilateralism’, with too big a say for the private sector (e.g. the UNFSS, outlined above)
o we need (and are working on) a political position on the digitalisation of the food system
o participation in FAO, CBD (GBF), ITPGRFA-AHTEG processes are inequitable due to connectivity issues (esp in Global South) and time differences (esp for Asia Pacific)
o challenges for all of us in maintaining our livelihoods v. the political work we do at local and global levels, but if we don’t do the political work, we may not be able to do the livelihood work…
IPC Youth Working Group
- Established a Youth Working Group (WG) within the IPC to connect global youth involved and interested in small-scale agriculture, and to build capacity of future leaders
- WG members were invited to participate in the IPC VGM in May and June, to gain a deeper understanding of the alliance.
- As a group, developed a youth initiatives mapping document, to collect data and information about national/local initiatives and strategies of small-scale food producers’ organisations that make rural areas more attractive for young women and men.
- In September, we had four sessions of training on public policy relevant for youth, with presentations and sessions led by members of the FAO and IPC, and breakout sessions facilitated by the members of the WG.
- The training sessions highlighted the need for a deeper level of political education as well as the opportunity for us to share initiatives across countries, to strengthen our movement overall.
- In November, we are to devise a strategy and work plan for the WG moving forward, based on the training and other inputs from the group activities.
Since 2013, AFSA committee members have been participating in the Civil Society and Indigenous People’s Mechanism (CSM), for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). The CSM is the “largest international space of civil society organisations (CSOs) working to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition”. “All participating organizations in the CSM belong to one of the following 11 constituencies: smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, agricultural and food workers, landless, women, youth, consumers, urban food insecure and NGOs”
As we moved into the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, participation in the CSM continued to involve calculating the time difference between Rome and Australia, and lots of late night Zoom meetings. All meetings, negotiations and plenaries of the CSM and CFS were held in the virtual mode with the inequity and challenges becoming increasingly clear due to poor internet connectivity, European-centric scheduling limiting participation by all regions except Europe and Africa, and lack of languages available for interpretation beyond English.
AFSA continued its role as the Australasian region representative in the Coordination Committee (CC) as well as participating in the CSM Working Groups on Women; Youth; and Facilitation. Georgie Mulcahy has been acting as an alternate in the CC since January 2021. AFSA has renewed its participation in the CC for the period of October 2021 – October 2023. Anisah Madden (previous International Liaison) is continuing as co-facilitator of the CSM Youth Working Group and also helped to develop a Facilitation Guide, which was released this year. Georgie and Anisah met with the Pacific region representative in April to begin building solidarity and alliances on extractive industries; corporate capture of natural resources; Indigenous fisherfolk; modern slavery and Pacific Seasonal Workers program.
Due to pandemic related delays, 2021 was a busy year including negotiations and endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN) in February, Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and other Innovative Approaches in May, and 3 CFS plenaries (February, May and October), plus the ongoing counter-mobilization to the UN Food Systems Summit (see above).
After extensive deliberation, the CSM decided to not endorse the VGFSyN due to concerns regarding the process of negotiations (e.g. lack of inclusiveness, political dynamics, ignoring knowledge sources best placed to shape the VGs including CFS’ own policy outcomes); almost all priorities of the CSM were not represented in the VGs (e.g. no holistic food systems lens, lack of a holistic human rights approach, lack of clarification of roles – state vs private sector, omission of key concept of sustainable health diets, no prioritization of local and resilient food systems). A press release and a series of documents including a positioning, background and vision document are available here.
The CSM also decided to not support the endorsement of the Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and other Innovative Approaches and produced a positioning statement. An extract of the statement outlines the Policy Recommendations:
- do not place the protection and realisation of human rights at the centre;
- do not assign a central role to agroecology nor its transformative potential is adequately recognised, while putting agroecology on an equal level with unsustainable approaches, without also recognising the imbalances between support for these and support for agroecological approaches;
- fail to recognise the social, economic and environmental impacts of the industrial agri-food system;
- fail to recognise the power imbalances within the food system;
- fail to recognise the ancestral and traditional knowledge of indigenous and peasant peoples and communities; and
- includes recommendations that are antagonistic to agroecology, such as the use of agrotoxics.
The policy processes for Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) and Policy Recommendations for Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems are ongoing, with Georgie and Anisah actively participating in the CSM Women and Youth (see below) Working Groups, respectively.
The Zero Draft of the GEWE was released in July, and the Asia Pacific Regional Consultations will be conducted in November. The CSM is advocating for greater gender diversity (rather than a binary approach) and inclusion of LGBTIQ peoples; a transformative paradigm, rather than a productivist approach; strengthening human rights; and focusing on the neoliberal, colonial and patriarchal structures for gender inequalities, rather than cultural contexts and norms.
Anisah Madden, CSM Youth WG Co-facilitator.
Over the last year and a half, the CSM Youth Constituency and Working Group has been very active – building our capacity and engaging in CSM and CFS processes. The most pertinent of these were:
- Response to Covid-19 pandemic:
Throughout 2020, the CSM Youth WG facilitated a series of online meetings to discuss the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on Youth and exchange actions, initiatives, needs, and political demands – resulting in the CSM Youth Policy Declaration on Covid-19: Youth Demands for a radical transformation of our food systems.
- Engagement in CFS policy process “Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems”:
In December 2020, the HLPE’s zero draft of the report on Youth was released for public consultation. The CSM Youth Working Group appointed a drafting team to formulate our response and can be found here.
The final draft of the HLPE report “Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems” was released in July 2021. The CSM Youth assessment of the report is that it has a good framework, mobilising the concepts of food sovereignty and agroecology as pathways towards economies of well-being and dignified and rewarding livelihoods. These can be achieved through the four pillars of rights, equity, agency and recognition. The report takes a broad view of education and innovation, drawing from popular and Indigenous approaches to knowledge production and grassroots innovation. On the downside, the report could have advanced a stronger analysis of the systemic challenges faced by youth in the food system and its recommendations were quite weak.
The HLPE report was subsequently presented at the CFS 49 Plenary for official adoption by governments. Dishearteningly, governments pushed back against the report, immediately rejecting the four pillars proposed by the HLPE, the report’s emphasis on agroecology, and advocated for an “all the tools in the toolbox” approach (i.e. complaining there was not enough biotechnology). CSM Youth spoke powerfully against the deletion of the pillars, emphasising their centrality in the HLPE report. There will be ongoing challenges with strong private sector involvement and support of neoliberal narratives of youth entrepreneurship.
In addition we have been working to prepare ourselves for the negotiations phase. This has included strategy meetings, agenda setting, identifying key issue areas and positions, and training on how instruments are negotiated at the CFS. This process is currently underway and will be our main focus for the rest of 2021 and through 2022.
LVC Southeast and East Asia ran Agroecology School with Third World Network (TWN), Assembly of the Poor, and Peter Rosset over a month in early 2021, which were very helpful to understand the methodologies other countries have used for agroecological transitions and farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing around the world. You can see the recordings on the LVC SEEA Facebook page.
The South East and East Asia Regional Meeting 2021 will be held virtually 8 – 9 November. AFSA sends two farmer delegates each year, prioritising youth and women in our participation.
Amy presented on behalf of AFSA at the Indonesian Food System Summit 2021, as part of a special edition on Food Sovereignty in the Pandemic Era.
Urgenci: The global network for community-supported agriculture is holding a conference 25 October – 3 November. AFSA has been a member of Urgenci since 2014, and Tammi is moderating a farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing session (at 3am AEDT!) on the 29th of October.
Pandemic Research for the People or PReP grew out of the Agroecology and Rural Economics Research Corps, and aimed at immediately getting research efforts underway to answer questions to help communities around the world during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
There’s a lot of great research being conducted on COVID-19, from its biomolecular characteristics to potential antivirals to epidemiologies at the broadest geographic scales. But much research remains handcuffed by a political economy going as far back as the origins of capitalism. Funding sources and political appointees gear a lot of otherwise terrific research toward saving the very systems of exploitation that help produce the problems to begin with.
Meanwhile, the needs of everyday people most immediately affected by the pandemic are left unaddressed. PReP’s focus is on answering questions around the people’s pandemic needs first.
PReP was instigated and to no small extent is led by the indefatigable Rob Wallace, author of Big Farms Make Big Flu (2016) and Dead Epidemiologists (2020). Rob works as an independent researcher, having been blacklisted by some establishment universities funded by Big Ag. When he set up a Patreon account early in the pandemic to provide a means of living while producing prodigious volumes of food sovereignty content, the AFSA National Committee voted to support the Patreon at $50/month. We made this decision as it is fulfils our constitutional objects to:
- research, publish, and disseminate information regarding food sovereignty, and campaign and lobby for food sovereignty; and
- facilitate, promote, and enable the education and activities of members, affiliates, and allies.
We also believe that supporting the means of knowledge production within the social movements is in keeping with an agroecological transition that promotes community and farmer control of the means of production.
Tammi is a member of PReP and co-author on two of its dispatches, including Can agriculture stop COVID-20, 21, and 22? Yes, but not by greenwashing agribusiness, and another piece pulling apart the epistemological, philosophical, physical, and political conceptions of ‘land’ and ‘land use change’. Scientists say land use change drives pandemics. But what if “land” isn’t what they think it is?
Three of PReP’s dispatches have now been published as a pamphlet by the Monthly Review.
The 2020-21 AFSA National Committee
Tammi Jonas, President
Nick Holliday, Vice-president
Dan Cordner, Treasurer
La Vergne Lehmann, Secretary
Georgie Mulcahy, International Liaison