Connect Blog

This piece was originally published by La Via Campesina. 

The World Social Forum, held this month in Montreal, brought together thousands of activists, organizations and social movements working to build a sustainable and inclusive world, to learn, strategize and share knowledge with each other.  With so many organizers, farmers, activists, students and change makers in one place, it was easy to see the collective strength of the movement and the potential for the type of transformative social change that our world needs.  The power of this potential was crystal clear at a briefing held by Quebec’s Union paysanne and La Via Campesina on the struggle of small-scale farmers in Quebec.

Union paysanne, or Peasant Union, was formed by a group of concerned farmers, consumers and activists that have been organizing in Quebec since 2001 to advocate for agricultural reform across the province. The goals of the movement – clearly articulated in their policy platform – include defending the rights of small scale farmers and organic production, advocating for access to land, food sovereignty and fair trade principles, and combating the corporate control of seeds, land and access to resources, including the refusal of GMOs and dependency on industrial agriculture. As Benoit Girouard, president of Union paysanne and a beekeeper and farmer explained, the main issue in Quebec is “the fight for access and control of our local resources for the local people.”

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For years, Union paysanne members have been organizing to break the monopoly of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) over the representation of farmers in Quebec. As Stephanie Wang and Laurence Barchichat, new farmers and coordinators of Union paysanne declared at the briefing, “Quebec cannot guarantee its food sovereignty without having a sovereign peasantry. The union monopoly of the UPA is a major obstacle to human-scale, respectful agriculture.”

The law in Quebec requires mandatory participation by small-scale farmers and producers in the UPA, which supports heavy regulations that make it hard for small farmers and producers to sell at markets and to have a viable, sustainable lifestyle in agriculture. According to Union paysanne, only 1% of the population in Quebec now works in agriculture; meanwhile 80% of agriculture land is not being cultivated because new, small-scale farmers and young farmers face restrictions to buy or access land. Most of the land is being shifted to large scale, corporate mono-culture facilities that are producing soy and canola.  These and other barriers make it difficult for small-scale farmers to survive.

Dona Sofia and children: ""I never thought that we could become a community of strong women, with our heads full of ideas. I may not have any money but I am a wealthy woman because of my ties to AFEDES." Photo credit:WhyHunger   This post first appeared in EcoWatch. The Kaqchikel women—one of 23 Mayan cultures in Guatemala—are fighting to protect their collective intellectual property rights to their traditional Mayan textile designs. Led by the Women's Association for the Development of Saquatepéquez (AFEDES), an organization with a membership of more than 1,000 indigenous women and supported by an association of Mayan lawyers, hundreds...

The Ways In Which I Don’t Worry

JEN CHAPIN , AUGUST 11, 2016 tagged as racial justice
This is a guest post originally published in the Kids Make a Difference Newsletter a couple years ago. Written by WhyHunger's longtime friend and Board Member Jen Chapin, in this honest reflection Jen wrangles with questions about racism that many have and reflects on America’s racial legacy, how it affects her son (who is now close to 11 yrs old) and what she’ll teach him. Unfortunately, the same questions and racial justice issues persist today so we wanted to share. I have been wrangling with this essay in my head for months, as I’ve struggled to find the right words to respond to a...
Artists Against Hunger and Poverty is excited to announce a new partnership with YouTuber Chris Oflyng for our Summer Meals Rock for Kids campaign! Known for his high energy and dynamic videos that promote positivity and acceptance, Chris has hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans across the world and is using his popular platform to draw attention to the summer hunger crisis in America. 

 When asked about why he decided to join the movement he says: 
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With humble beginnings in a small suburb outside of Pittsburgh, Artists Against Hunger and Poverty member Steve Bodner is a true grassroots artist. Even though he has gone on to play great venues like CBGB, Wrigley Field, and Trident Studios, he remains true to his roots and uses music to...

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At a national gathering I participated in with 500 community organizations and food access groups like soup kitchens, food banks, and food pantries a bold, collective statement emerged from the people working on the frontlines of hunger.  I look to their experience as a grounding force in our evolving strategies...

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WhyHunger is excited to be participating in the upcoming World Social Forum (WSF) in Montreal, where tens of thousands of people from groups in civil society, organizations and social movements will gather to strategize for global social justice. Since it began in 2001, the WSF has been one of the...

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Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been in the news headlines a lot with discussion about whether or not GMOs should even have a place in our food system. And if they do, do consumers have the right to know? Recently, a bi-partisan bill dubbed the Denying Americans the Right to Know...

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I had the pleasure of sitting down with 2016 WhyHunger Chapin Awards honoree Raul Amorim, a representative for our social movement partner Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST), while he was in town to learn more about the issues and struggles his organization faces. Raul spoke passionately about the continued fight...

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