Posted by Dave on December 10, 2010
On Wednesday, we personally delivered nearly 200,000 comments from Food Democracy Now! members and our allies at Credo Action to Department of Justice and USDA officials at the final hearing on antitrust violations in the food and agricultural sectors of our economy. Together with our coalition partners we submitted more than a quarter million comments calling for real change and in the past year Food Democracy Now! members made more than 110,000 comments on this vital issue.
We can tell you without a doubt that the voices of those fed up with the way our food system is hurting farmers, farm workers, the environment and our health have been heard loud and clear -- and you helped make that happen.
We were proud to represent you in a private meeting with two key officials -- Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the DOJ and USDA Under Secretary John Ferrell.
We let Ms. Varney and Mr. Ferrell know that we were encouraged by the administration's yearlong public hearings into antitrust violations by agribusiness corporations and that we are behind them in moving forward to prosecute the worst violators by enforcing existing laws and breaking up food monopolies.
These hearings represent an unprecedented investigation by the U.S. government into the real abuses by some of the largest corporations on the planet. And we've been encouraged by the Department of Justice and USDA's commitment to taking the concerns of family farmers, small retailers and consumers very seriously.
We cannot let up now, though. As the DOJ enters the "follow through phase" of their investigations into these powerful corporations, we'll need to continue to raise our voices with strength to decision makers in Washington.
In the past year Food Democracy Now! traveled to all 5 of the DOJ / USDA hearings -- in Ankeny, Iowa; Normal, Alabama; Madison, Wisconsin; Fort Collins, Colorado and now to DC because we felt that it was vitally important that this administration know that we want them to do the right thing - and that we fully expect them to follow through.
Extreme market concentration in our food system has allowed these corporations to reap massive profits, while American citizens pay a huge cost and more family farmers are driven off the land. This has brought power in the marketplace and at the legislative-making table to large-scale corporate agriculture and they are not going to let go without a fight.
Thank you for letting this administration know that now is the time for courage and conviction. NOW is the time for these investigations to take place, so that justice and fairness can be returned to all sectors of the marketplace - from the poultry grower to the mom who wants to put healthy food on the table, to the rancher and the small town grocer
Food Democracy Now! co-founder, farmer and friend, Paul Willis (founder and manager of the Niman Ranch Pork Company) joined us in DC and we can't say enough about how meaningful it was to have him there. We also owe a BIG thank you our partners in this endeavor, Credo Action, who gathered nearly 100,000 comments, that we delivered to the DOJ and USDA.
This is just the beginning of our campaign to confront excessive consolidation in the food industry. Thank you for being there with us.
Thank YOU for participating in food democracy,
- Dave, Lisa and The Food Democracy Now! Team