How agricultural work injures and kills people and planet, and the movement to reverse that


by Dean, subsistence farmer and member of Payday in the US, May 2020


(Addendum to Payday speech by Sam Weinstein at Care Income Now!Webinar, 3 April 2020)


Sam’s point re job injury statistics, that they likely “don’t include so called ‘factory farms’ where much of our food is grown and harvested, often by migrant workers made up of whole families that take the brunt of literally back-breaking work and oceans of poisonous pesticides with which the crops are bombed, and which all of us later consume”, is well taken. 


I would just add that they also don’t include:

·       the pandemic of cancers and other illness that chemicalized industrial ag (aka factory farming) inflicts on farmer families and communities ensnared in that system, many of which farmers want out but are trapped by debt.

·       the pandemic of farmer/ag-worker suicides (US farmers and ag worker commit suicide at nearly five times the rate of the general population; over the last 25 years in India nearly 400,000 farmers committed suicide because, like more than half of US farmers who currently have negative farm income, they must borrow to acquire the ever more expensive hybrid/GMO seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and equipment that system requires, and end up bankrupt, even as the profits of the corporations that control the system and supply the inputs have risen sky high.)

·       the millions of people that factory farming kills indirectly by killing the soil, causing both the ever-increasing aridification at the root of global warming and its floods, heat waves, wildfires and super-storms; and the nutrient-poor, poison-rich ‘food’ at the root of the exponentially growing pandemic of chronic human disease. 

·       the many murdered for defending their lands and waters from factory farming and other extractive industries.

But despite such chilling stats, a massive grassroots movement of small-scale farmers, farmworkers, fishers, herders and others, largely in the Global South but also the North, some 200 million just in La Via Campesina – largely of color, including Indigenous, at least half of them women – is fighting tooth and nail to end factory farming’s global onslaught. 


They are fighting to replace it with food sovereignty and a soil-regenerative agro-ecology that produces abundant nutrient-rich, poison-free food that will restore human health, and by regreening the planet will cool the climate. 


This largely rural grassroots movement continues to grow and gain strength, and will grow stronger still as urban and rural movements connect -- a coming together which the demand for a Care Income Now! could accelerate.


Also read: Industrial agriculture is the main thief