Agricultural Missions Agrarian Delegation to Participate in World Social Forum

NEW YORK CITY - Agricultural Missions, Inc. - a U.S. ecumenical ministry of accompaniment with rural peoples’ movements and farmers’ organizations -- is organizing and coordinating a 16-person U.S. Agrarian Delegation’ to the Via Campesina Assembly (Jan 21-23, 2003) and the 3rd World Social Forum (Jan 23-28, 2003), both to be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Agricultural Missions’ Latin America liaison and agriculturalist Stephen Bartlett will be accompanying the delegation and helping to integrate a wide range of organizational representatives of small farmers, farm workers and urban youth agriculturalists into the growing international coalition known as Via Campesina and in the dynamic and massive World Social Forum (WSF), with up to 100,000 people expected to attend.

U.S. organizations represented in this delegation include the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (involved in Taco Bell boycott), CITA (a farm worker solidarity organization in New York State), the Food Project of Boston, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), the Women, Food and Agriculture network of Iowa, the Community Farm Alliance of Kentucky, Family Farm Defenders, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), PCUN (a farm worker organization in Oregon) and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (an African American farmer advocacy organization), joining together with the National Family Farm Coalition which was the only U.S. farmer organization previously involved in Via Campesina.

Issues to be discussed and actions planned for in Brazil include: exclusion of agriculture from international ‘free’ trade agreements and World Trade Organization rules, a moratorium on the use of patented GMO seeds in agriculture, and promotion of an alternative, environmentally sound, farmer controlled agricultural production and marketing model based on the primacy of local markets, ecological sustainability, democratic process, and economic justice and solidarity.

Additional funding for delegate air tickets to Brazil came from Oxfam America, board members of Agricultural Missions, and the Presbyterian Church USA Hunger Program. For more information, please contact Stephen Bartlett, Stephen@ncccusa.org (Tel: 502 894-9308 or 212 870-2553.)

By Albert H. Lee
chtoday_editor@chtoday.com