AFSA 2022 National Committee Report
President’s Report 2
Financial Report 4
Membership Report 5
Legal Defence Fund 5
1) Advice/Action/Appearances 6
2) Submissions 8
Farming on Other People’s Land (FOOPL) 9
AFSA in the Global Food Sovereignty Movement 9
UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) and the Autonomous People’s Counter Mobilization 9
The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) 10
Civil Society and Indigenous People’s Mechanism (CSM) 12
CSM Youth Constituency 14
La Via Campesina 15
Other International 15
Pandemic Research for the People (PReP) 15
The uncertainty created by the ongoing pandemic has only clarified the certainty of the work to be done to achieve food sovereignty for all. We’ve seen disruptions to supply chains, increased incidence of hunger in Australia and globally, and greater geopolitical instability across all regions. In the face of this, solidarity economies like community-supported agriculture (CSA) have grown stronger and peoples’ desire to access local, nutritious, ethical and ecologically-sound food has never been greater.
AFSA remains committed to working to:
- Promote First Peoples’ sovereignty;
- Provide legal support with our Legal Defence Fund;
- Advocate for legal reform to support small-scale, localised farming and food systems, with the first major update of our founding document, the Peoples’ Food Plan, currently underway;
- Support young farmers securing land tenure with landsharing and sharefarming agreements through our Farming on Other Peoples’ Land (FOOPL) program of work;
- Promote community-supported agriculture (CSA) and other solidarity economies;
- Promote agroecology and agricultural biodiversity, in Australia and through our international advocacy towards COP 15 for Biodiversity;
- Fighting corporate control of food and water!
It has been a strong year for AFSA as we developed many of our programs of work listed above with the help of more volunteers on working groups, Advisory Groups, and in the Legal Defence Fund team, where four wonderful paralegals and a supervising lawyer have been providing assistance to our members on a range of issues, in addition to drafting a long-dreamed-for legal guide for members!
On behalf of the National Committee, I’d like to thank some excellent activists who stepped down from the committee this year:
- Vice-president Nick Holliday – congratulations to you and Brydie on the safe and adorable arrival of dear Harlan, a radical agroecologist in the making, and thank you for your camaraderie and political clarity in your years on the committee;
- International liaison Georgie Mulcahy – thank you for your tireless service to the endless work of the CSIPM, with its unique and critical policy development opportunities for civil society, and for wrangling the international team in our diverse efforts, not to mention your many contributions to domestic policy work.
We also farewell Secretary Madeleine Toohey at AGM this year – thank you both for your enthusiasm and intelligent contributions to a diverse workload from our First Peoples’ First Strategy to LDF developments and international youth meetings!
To the rest of the Committee, thank you for your many efforts from the local, and national, to the international, and for your solidarity and strength in increasingly challenging world circumstances.
As the year winds to its usual cyclone finale, we hope all our members are able to remain active in your optimism, actively working for the changes the world so desperately needs so that everyone has equal access to nutritious and culturally-appropriate food grown and distributed in ethical and ecologically-sound ways, and is able to exercise their rights to democratically participate in our food and agriculture systems.
Viva la revolución!
Tammi Jonas, President
AFSA finishes this year in a strong financial position with just under over $50,000 in the bank. We returned a loss of $10,000 due to a number of factors which is significantly more than the break even budget we forecasted.
These factors include that revenue remains down due to Membership still being charged at the old rates and many people not able to renew online. We estimated that Membership Fees would reach around $28,000 but in fact have only reached just over $16,000.
Farming Democracy Sales were slightly below budget of $2,750, they were closer to $2,300. The Convergence is the only live event we have hosted, ticket sales for this were slow and a full accounting of profit and loss for this event has not yet been done. We had outstanding PAYG debts from 2020/2021 that were brought up to date, but we also received a lump sum Covid related payment once these Activity Statements were brought up to date that resulted in an overall income boost of around $5,000.
It is worth noting that we have paid in full for the Website upgrade which has been an ongoing issue for many years and has continued to affect our Membership revenue, this was paid as a project out of excess budgeted wages and superannuation as well as advertising funds.
With the launch of the new website we have also fixed the Membership System and sent automated emails to all past and current members with the new pricing structure of $75-$500 for Allies and $100 to $500 for Farmers.
We are budgeting for the publication of Eating Democracy in 2023 along with two in-person events in 2023 being the launch of Eating Democracy and the 2023 Food Sovereignty Convergence. We are also budgeting on a grant which will provide additional support for Wages for the production of the Legal Guide and People’s Food Plan. Our budget forecast for 2023 will return us to surplus and attempt to offset the previous year’s losses ensuring a continued healthy bank balance.
We look forward to providing even more membership benefits in 2023 including a revised Peoples Food Plan and Legal Guide which, along with the new website should boost membership levels further.
AFSA’s membership reports a significant decrease from last AGM from 371 down to 246 members. This is due to ongoing issues with AFSA’s website and membership system, which was retaining inactive members who were not reflected in our financial reports. However, following the relaunch of the AFSA website and new membership system, which includes critical upgrades to the membership system, we can move forward in 2023 with a clear view on AFSA’s membership and drive it further!
Previously, members had trouble accessing the membership system to change and update their details, and navigate the website when looking for information. Upgrades to the membership system allow for members to seamlessly manage their accounts and contact AFSA’s Admin Officer, Jess Power, with any further queries.
In terms of membership benefits, AFSA has been working on some exciting projects to support members, which will be available as member-only content on the new AFSA website over the next 12 months. This includes the Legal Guide for Members, a living resource to help farmer members navigate common challenges under legislation, planning provisions and regulation across all states and territories; additional support through the Legal Defence Fund; a CSA farmer directory; and an expansion of example agreements for Farming on Other People’s Land (FOOPL). AFSA notes that the ongoing pandemic, climate change contributing to recent floods, and economic crises has negatively impacted many farmers across the country, leading to cancelled memberships where needed. We hope that continuing our focus on providing resources and support to farmers and allies over the next 12 months will position former members to renew and take full advantage of these offerings.
As many of these recent challenges are ongoing, we look forward to building solidarity and support with new and existing AFSA members in 2023.
Legal Defence Fund
The Legal Defence Fund (LDF) has gone from strength-to-strength in 2022, thanks to our incredible team of volunteer paralegals who have committed time, passion and energy to upholding the legal rights of small-scale farmers. To Mahalia, Freia, Britt and Berk, we’d like to thank you for all of your efforts this year, particularly on the Legal Guide for AFSA Members, which is due to be finalised and shared on our website over the coming months.
As aforementioned, the Legal Guide is intended to be a living resource on the AFSA website for members to access when navigating common challenges such as regulation; planning and zoning; land and farm sharing agreements; volunteer agreements; grounds for review and many more. For any AFSA member who would like to be part of the Guide’s development, through providing input on how legal challenges have impacted your ability to operate as a small-scale producer, we welcome you to reach out to the Legal Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Aside from the Legal Guide, the LDF has powered ahead with advice to farmer members on a number of queries, ranging from processes to major hurdles, such as rejected claims from Federal Government for small-scale farmers under the Disaster Relief Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
Below you can see a de-identified summary of advice given to members and to politicians and public servants, and our submissions to the government.
NB: Farms have been de-identified for privacy.
||Re: Food safety and local government regulation on packaging for hobby farmer selling vegetables. AFSA provided guidance on packaging requirements and engagement with local council.
||Re: Guidance on establishing Volunteer Agreements in adherence to legal requirements and employer responsibilities.
||Re: Changing the definition of primary producer under the Federal Government’s Disaster Relief Funding Arrangements. In response to members’ claims being rejected under the existing definition which omits small-scale, independent producers from receiving funding following NSW/QLD floods.
|21 April 2022
||Correspondence on changes to the Meat Industry Act, enabling small-scale producers to store meat in fridges on farms before selling to the community. These amendments follow 7 years of lobbying the Victorian Government to action these changes.
|17 May 2022
||Re: Guidance on land and farm sharing agreements and local government/food safety regulation for a small-scale enterprise planned in NSW.
|9 July 2022
||Re: Council development plans for an intensive piggery and the threat of Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) nearby small pig farms. Provided guidance on planning requirements for buffer distances between proposed site and nearby farms.
Farming on Other People’s Land (FOOPL)
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 promote 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. In 2023 and beyond, we aim to build on available FOOPL resources to members, offering guidance and examples of land-sharing and share-farming agreements, financial plans and other important processes to enable the scaling out of FOOPL arrangements across the country.
The FOOPL Steering Committee has also discussed the possibility of establishing a FOOPL fund in 2023, offering young farmers a kickstart.
AFSA in the Global Food Sovereignty Movement
The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)
In addition to AFSA expanding its projects on home soil, our solidarity with the global food movement has shown no signs of slowing down over the past year! It also marked a welcome reunion with global allies last month following two years of travel restrictions at the peak of the pandemic. We would like to extend our gratitude to AFSA’s comrades across the globe, for their continued solidarity as we work together to overhaul the injustices of colonial capitalism, free-trade and global food systems. Below are the highlights of international meetings over the past year.
FAO Asia Pacific Regional Conference 8-11 March 2022
AFSA sits on the Steering Committee to organise the Civil Society Consultation in advance of the FAO Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) every two years. This year the APRC was held in Bangladesh in a hybrid model, with many delegates and observers attending virtually. It is the first time the FAO has directed some of the funding for the CSO consultation to civil society research papers (because no travel budget was required), and it was a welcome initiative, resulting in some excellent papers on agroecology and One Health.
The intervention we made on the thematic papers called for climate justice and rejected business-as-usual capitalist greenwashing ‘solutions’ such as REDD+, Nature-based Solutions (NBS), and ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’, calling instead for broader support for an agroecological transition and the end of industrial agriculture. We welcomed the sharpened focus on ecosystem health in the revised definition of One Health – an approach to livestock farming that considers the health of humans, animals, and environment systemically – and we rejected the push for ‘inclusive digitalisation’, calling instead for digital justice.
Nyéléni Process: towards a Global Gathering for Food Sovereignty
IPC is making good progress now on the Nyéléni process – preparation for a global food sovereignty gathering in early 2025. Nyéléni is a galvanising process towards a third global gathering (the first were in 2007 and 2015) of the diverse and strong movements for food sovereignty, climate justice, biodiversity conservation, feminism and gender equity, youth, and indigenous struggles everywhere. Read more about this process here.
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): The Global Biodiversity Framework
This year in Montreal, 193 national governments will come together to agree to a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to replace the failed 2011 Aichi Targets. Think of it as the ‘Paris Agreement for nature’. Civil society and the private sector (in the form of global organisations representing Big Ag such as CropLife, the peak body for agri-chemical and biotech companies) will be there in their roles as observers who are granted opportunities to make ‘interventions’ into the discussions. Civil society still holds serious concerns that the targets will lock in more capitalist solutions such as offsets and ‘net zero’ targets, and continue to advocate to remove productivity from the targets in the age-old battle against a productivist approach to agriculture.
On 18-20 September, AFSA attended preparatory meetings in Penang convened by the Third World Network (TWN), continuing these discussions with allies in the Global South. In December 2022, AFSA will be attending COP15 in Montreal during the two week schedule to offer further input alongside other members of the IPC for Food Sovereignty. You can read more about our analysis of the problems of the GBF process towards COP15 in Farming, pandemics, and a conservation program aimed at enriching the Global North.
IPC Youth Working Group
A huge thanks to current National Committee member Amy and former members Madeleine and Georgie for participating in IPC Youth Working Groups on behalf of AFSA over the past 12 months!
Civil Society and Indigenous People’s Mechanism (CSIPM)
Following on from last year’s report, we note that the acronym for this working group was amended from CSM to CSIPM in March this year.
Highlights from the CSIPM include progress on Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism actively participated to advocate for addressing the structural and causes of inequality (hello the patriarchy and intersectionality), a human-rights and non-gender binary approach, inclusion of LGBTIQA peoples, the importance of social protection, women’s control of and access to land and natural resources. The CSM continue to centre a vision of a food system based on food sovereignty and agroecology, rather than small holders and peasants being subsumed into value chains and formal labour markets, as a means to achieve equality and empowerment.
The First Draft was discussed at the OEWG on 21 February, followed by the Draft for Negotiations in March.
CSM Youth Constituency
The CSM Youth WG continues to be active in developing policy processes and recommendations across key areas, including:
- CSM Youth WG coordination taking part in the CFS Advisory Group and Bureau meeting (24 November 2o21)
- Submission of the CSM Youth WG’s input for the preparation of the Zero Draft of the CFS Youth Policy Recommendations (22 November 2021)
- The CSM youth latest written contribution to the CFS conveys the clear political lines for the upcoming policy process: a) transformation is urgently necessary; b) the transformation needs to happen towards economies of wellbeing; c) food sovereignty and youth agency; c) agroecology and climate justice as key elements; d) human rights as a foundational element.
- Open Ended Working Group Meeting of the CFS Youth Policy Process (19 November 2021)
- CSM Youth meeting with the CFS Youth Policy Process Rapporteur Pio Wennubst (Switzerland), (15 November 2021)
- CFS Youth Policy Process: Thematic Discussion, Open Ended Working Group + HLPE, 10 (December 2021) on two crucial topics: (1) Defining youth, (2) Discussing the role of Human Rights for the Promotion of Youth Employment in Food Systems
La Via Campesina
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.
National Committee member Mirella Gavidia joined women from across Southeast and Eastern Asia in Manila for the LVC Women’s Articulation in September, and our president’s son Atticus Jonas had the opportunity to represent us at the LVC Youth Articulation in Surat Thani in southern Thailand in October. They engaged in sharing the global peasant struggle, food sovereignty, agroecology, youth migration out of rural areas, and the critical role of women as stewards of land and seed.
The 2021-22 AFSA National Committee:
- Tammi Jonas, President
- Randal Breen, Vice-president
- Penny Kothe, Treasurer
- Madeleine Toohey, Secretary
- Dan Cordner
- La Vergne Lehmann
- Amy Pagett
- Eliza Cannon
- Mirella Gavidia
- Nick Holliday (former)
- Georgie Mulcahy (former)