Food Sovereignty, the Farm Bill and New Mexicans: faces and voices

Food Sovereignty Day and Farm Bill rally at the Santa Fe Farmers Market on October 16, 2013.
Food Sovereignty Day and Farm Bill rally at the Santa Fe Farmers Market on October 16, 2013.

Text, photos and audio by ERIC SHULTZ

October 16 marks the 32nd World Food Day, but the international organization of rural people called La Via Campesina makes the stronger call for an International Food Sovereignty Day. And that–food sovereignty–was on the minds of many at a Santa Fe rally to press for passage of a new Farm Bill. That sprawling piece of legislation that cover programs from Food Stamps (SNAP) to disaster relief is stalled in Congress despite the September 30 expiration of the previous authorization. This complex bill affects New Mexico’s food economy in complex ways and SNAP–the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program–serves as a telling example.

Our state ranks dead last in the country for food security. But recipients here are allowed to spend their SNAP food stamps at farmers markets and choose locally grown produce. So SNAP has become a significant source of income for a growing movement determined to revitalize farming in New Mexico. In other words, SNAP is a food sovereignty job creator. House Republicans have proposed cutting the SNAP program by $40 billion over 10 years. For “Big Ag” food sovereignty is an odious thing.

What follows are series of interviews with farmers attending yesterday’s rally and recordings of some of the speakers demanding that Congress pass a Farm Bill now and without job-killing and otherwise malnourishing cuts. Below each picture, click the audio button to hear the person’s own words.

The interviews:

Santa Cruz farmer Don Bustos also works with the American Friends Service Committee.
Santa Cruz farmer Don Bustos also works with the American Friends Service Committee.

Don Bustos (4m:19s):

Ralph Vigil is a founder of the one-year-old Pecos Farmers Coop.
Ralph Vigil is a founder of the one-year-old Pecos Farmers Coop.

Ralph Vigil (7:41):

Ginia Gallegos has co-founded the El Mogote coop near Youngsville to revitalize her extended family's adjacent farms.
Ginia Gallegos has co-founded the El Mogote coop near Youngsville to revitalize her extended family’s adjacent farms.

Ginia Gallegos (3:11):

Chimayo farmer and New Mexico Acequia Association staffer Pilar Trujillo stands with Ginia Gallegos at the rally.
Chimayo farmer and New Mexico Acequia Association staffer Pilar Trujillo stands with Ginia Gallegos at the rally.

Pilar Trujillo (4:19):

Musician Fidel Gonzales has found new joys and meaning as a farmer in Albuquerque's South Valley.
Musician Fidel Gonzales has found new joys and meaning as a farmer in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

Fidel Gonzales (8:06):

Speeches:

Clayton Brascoupe and Don Bustos (seated), Paula Garcia at the microphone.
Clayton Brascoupe and Don Bustos (seated), Paula Garcia at the microphone.

Serafina Lomardi, in charge of farmer/rancher outreach for the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), called the roll (2:01):

NMAA director and Mora County Commissioner Paula Garcia addresses the rally (6:24):

Clayton Brascoupe represented both the national Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance and the regional Traditional Native American Farmers Alliance (2:34):

Dave Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association.
Dave Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association.

Dave Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association represented both the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, and the nationwide aggregation of groups and individuals that calls itself the Rural Coalition (13:29):

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