When voices for a sustainable food system are loud enough to be seen as threats, they can pat themselves on the back, at least a little. Formation of the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) shows some nervous reaction in the big-agriculture ranks. Major farm associations are circling the wagons to fight off critics. The alliance’s introductory video calls for farmers and ranchers to come together: “Let’s change the perception of modern farming and ranching from negative to one that inspires a nation.”
Behind the the calls for “a collective voice” are some familiar faces. The major commodity associations are there, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Sheep Industry, United Egg Producers, U.S. Grain Council, Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Dairy Farmers of America. John Deere and DuPont have signed onto the Premier Partner Advisory Group.
American Farm Bureau (AFB) president Bob Stallman is one of the founding members. In a speech he gave at the AFB convention in January 2010, he said, “A line must be drawn between our polite and respectful engagement with consumers and how we must aggressively respond to extremists who want to drag agriculture back to the day of 40 acres and a mule. The time has come to face our opponents with a new attitude. The days of their elitist power grabs are over.”
The “elitist power grabs” he was referring to were such pesky things as climate legislation. In the July 25, 2011, FB News (AFB’s newspaper), other nuisances were named, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Photo from USDA Agricultural Research Service
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