After USDA film screening, Farm Aid takes on politicians, Monsanto at concert |

After USDA film screening, Farm Aid takes on politicians, Monsanto at concert

The Agriculture Department hosted a screening of a Farm Aid movie, about the farm crisis of the 1980s, on Thursday. On Saturday, at Farm Aid’s annual concert in Virginia, performers criticized Bayer’s proposed acquisition of Monsanto.

“USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative invites you to join USDA leadership and Farm Aid 2016 for a film screening and discussion. … USDA is pleased to host the premier screening of Farm Aid’s documentary film, ‘Homeplace Under Fire,’ which tells the story of American farm advocates and their fight to keep family farmers on the land during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s,” read the invitation.

The invitation said that the invited audience would be welcomed by Doug O’Brien, senior policy adviser for rural affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid.

The film was followed by a panel discussion with:

▪ Scott Marlow, Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (moderator)

▪ Elanor Starmer, administrator of Agricultural Marketing Service

▪ Val Dolcini, administrator of Farm Service Agency

▪ Joe Leonard, USDA assistant secretary for civil rights

▪ Stephen Carpenter, deputy director & senior staff attorney at Farmers Legal Action Group

▪ Ben Burkett, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, fourth-generation farmer

Performers Willie Nelson and Neil Young founded the Farm Aid concerts during the 1980s farm crisis to raise money to help troubled farmers, and on Saturday the 31st annual Farm Aid concert was held in Virginia.

Helen Bottemiller Evich of Politico reported today that, at a press conference before the concert, Young said of the Bayer acquisition of Monsanto: “These are huge corporations that don’t want you to give your food to the people. They want to give you their seeds and they want to control you, and they want you to sell the food that has been degraded. People don’t believe that this is really happening, but it is happening, and our politicians and our government and especially our president is behind it. And it is something that needs to be addressed at our level, where people do things for themselves, where people take back their own rights.”

Farm Aid’s Mugar said the number of farmer distress calls to the Farm Aid hotline has gone up 106 percent this summer.

“We know that they are hurting,” she said. “They have been left behind by their elected officials often, and exploited by corporations who have so much power over their markets.”

The article also noted that Deb Eschmeyer, executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign and a senior adviser on nutrition policy to the president, spoke about the Obama administration’s nutrition efforts and praised family farmers.

–The Hagstrom Report

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