LVC North America
Fellsmere and Florida City, Florida, United States of America – 12 – 16 February 2015
We are 55 people from 19 organizations from 4 countries – the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, and we are of the following origins: Mexican, Mexican-American, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Chilean, African American, Native American, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, Canadian, and North America. We are farmer workers, family farmers and peasants, and technicians from member organizations of Via Campesina, as well as allies from other farmers’ organizations, NGOs, students and academics, interpreters and other supporters.
We gathered in the Campesinos’ Community Gardens in Fellsmere and Florida City in Florida from the 12th to the 16th of February 2015 to undertake the First Encuentro ( or Meeting) of Campesino to Campesino Agroecology in the North American region of Via Campesina. This Encuentro, jointly organized by member organizations of Via Campesina North America, the Farm Workers Association of Florida (FWAF) and the Rural Coalition, has made possible an exchange of knowledge and collaborative learning which included sharing traditional wisdom, respect for Mother Earth, and stimulated the vital contributions of women and youth.
We understand that for hundreds and hundreds of years, family farmers, peasants and farm workers around the world have developed, through direct practice, what are now ancestral techniques used by farmers and to care for the earth, supporting its fertility by nourishing and nurturing the land with great love and affection. A little over 50 years ago agribusiness instilled in us the great lie that we must use toxic agro-chemicals to enhance production, such that the newer generations have lost these ancestral practices. The dominant society has also instilled in us a mindset that being a peasant or farmworkers is shameful. Our young people are starting to see all of this with new eyes. We need to teach our children that they should be proud to be a peasant or farm worker
This Encuentro has strengthened our commitment to, and our belief in, agroecology as a transformative process and as a foundation for building food sovereignty and for healing and protecting Mother Earth. It has also strengthened our confidence in collective work as the foundation of the struggle for social and economic justice and ecological and environmental justice. When working with these concepts and principles, we create changes through which the earth and peoples are again connected in harmony.
Threats and Challenges to Agroecological Peasant Agriculture and Food Sovereignty
Our region faces challenges and threats that undermine food sovereignty and the welfare of our families and communities, violating our rights as workers, and causing serious damage to the land, the soil, the environment, and Mother Earth.
We recognize that the main threat to the rights of the peasants is the global food system, controlled by multinational corporations, based on industrialized agriculture and enabled by the unjust free trade agreements, it is also subsidized by governments that only serve the interests of the corporations and the elites. This system exploits farmworkers and only enriches the few. The cooperate-controlled global food system’s uncontrolled emissions of greenhouse gases are hurting the earth and changing the climate.
We face multinational corporations who want to impose the GMO seeds and increase dependence on toxic agro-chemical, harmful to the health of farm workers and consumers. Also we confront our government agencies that are conspiring with multinationals, like Monsanto, to impose GMO seeds. These seeds threaten the integrity of our local varieties and the health of our families and our communities. While our soils, rivers, agro-ecosystems and forests are more and more degraded by industrial agriculture, and are still losing biodiversity and local seed production and the costs of conventional production based on the “Green Revolution” model continue to rise.
Faced with these serious barriers to agroecological peasant agriculture and food sovereignty, we members of organizations belonging to the Vía Campesina in North America, along with our allies present at the Campesino a Campesino Agroecology Encuentro, affirm the following positions:
· The agroecological agriculture practiced by peasant families and food sovereignty policies provide the only feasible solution to the many challenges we face.
· Only agroecological methods serve to adapt to climate change and provide greater flexibility and resistance to face these challenges.
· Only diversified agro-ecosystems and genetic diversity of local peasant seeds and seed systems farmers prepare us to face the challenges of the future.
· Agro ecological agriculture requires that the connection of people to the land and that we do all in our power to halt land grabs and the loss of land to our diverse communities and that we expand access to public land to protect our climate and feed our communities.
· Our governments must withdraw support from to multinational corporations who promote industrialized and genetically modified seeds, such as Monsanto, and the instead should support farmer- based seed production systems based on the recovery, protection, multiplication, storage, and exchange of seeds locally.
· We demand that public funds support a from farmer to farmer research model , theoretical and practical education programs for and by small scale farmers and farmworkers and oriented to agroecological peasant agriculture, with a transformation of curricula at all levels – from primary schools through higher education.
· We call on our governments to create comprehensive programs to support agroecological farming by undertaken by small scale farmer, peasant, and farm workers families to rebuild Food Sovereignty.
· We honor and value traditional wisdom of Campesinos and Campesinas.
· We support the principles of Cochabamba on the Rights of Mother Earth.
Meeting commitments coming out of the Campesino a Campesino Agroecology Encuentro in the North America Region:
· We pledge to continue building Agroecology and Food Sovereignty from below.
· We will build organizational structures in our organizations and in La Via Campesina at the regional level to support our member organizations in their work to promote agroecology among their families and members.
· We want to build awareness of the “we “, or of the collective, instead of individualism and the focus on “me”.
· Agroecology is not an option, but a necessity! We join our ancestors to keep fighting for agroecological peasant agriculture and respect for our ancestral cultures.
· We are committed to finding ways to increase the participation and leadership of women and youth and combating discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, and age.
· We will build regional training programs, exchange visits, production and sharing of educational materials, the development of popular education materials, and identification, documentation, systematization and socialization of successful cases in the region and internationally, and programs to promote peasant-based agroecology from farmer to farmer and from community to community.
· We will support processes furthering basic and popular education, emphasizing popular education methods to share agroecology. We want to connect the popular and ancestral language.
· We continue the years long commitment of our organizations, rooted in the struggles of the indigenous, Afro-descendant; and the land grant and acequia communities protected under the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo; to halting the historical and continuing theft of land and to protecting the tenure of people on the land and assuring land is in the hands of the people and communities who will care for it, to feed our communities and protect our Mother Earth and her resources for our children’s children.
· We will pressure governments at all levels (local, state, national, and regional) to adopt public policies that promote agroecological peasant agriculture and food sovereignty. We are committed to getting and holding onto our public land to develop agroecological methods of peasant production.
· We will build a powerful voice of farm workers, family farmers, and peasants to be present, along with other sectors of civil society, in the national, regional, and international events and advocacy venues with the message that we oppose false solutions to climate change and demand the adoption of the Principles of Cochabamba.
· We shall always fight against exploitation of farm workers and theft of the wages of rural workers and wage laborers.
· We insist on Agroecological Peasant Agriculture and Food Sovereignty as the real solutions to the multiple crises – economic, social, environmental, climate – we face. We recognize that popular movements provide true social change to resist globalized corporate power.
We can feed ourselves with agroecology and food sovereignty!
No to the corporate food system, no to GMOs, no land grabbing!
Agroecology for the people, for life and forever!
Agroecological peasant agriculture cools the planet!
Yes to Agroecology, and NO to Climate Smart Agriculture!
Globalize the fight! Globalize the hope!