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A Call to Action!

on January 26, 2016
In December, UMass Amherst leader Anna Hankins shared this call to action informally, throughout the RFC network. There was big response -  student groups are diving in to take action on their campuses in Feburary, and join Regional Action TrainingsAre you in?

From Anna:

This May 2016 I will graduate with nearly $50,000 worth of debt and a degree in agriculture. I will have learned about soil chemistry, the basics of starting a farm, food policy, the farm bill.  And from what I’ve learned so far, our future is not one that will sustain us - unless we fight for it. We can’t lose any more ground.

We can’t wait any longer for our administrators to decide: when it comes to the future of land and food -- fundamentals of life -- will our universities continue to be part of the problem, or will they be part of the solution?

Family farmers can’t wait for it to become more convenient for our institutions to invest in them. Fishers and ranchers can’t wait either - their livelihoods are increasingly threatened by industry consolidation on land & sea. And none of us can wait for healthy, just food to be accessible for everyone.

Since 2005, students at 81 universities have won commitments for 20%  just, sustainable food sourcing and radical transparency in their university food system. These commitments represent our resistance to the squeeze on food producers and workers at every step of the food supply chain. At one hundred other universities, administrators have not been willing to commit to the bare minimum of our ask -- a  20% promise to our to producers, communities, and our future.

This spring, I will be taking nonviolent direct action because I am 100% committed to fighting for a livable future for myself, a resilient economy for my community, and justice for all of the people who seed, grow, harvest, truck, and cook the food we all rely on.

I will be taking action because I know about the sweetest-ever cherry tomatoes I ate at my friend Carmen’s farm in Iowa. And because I know that most tomato fields don’t look like hers, but rather, like the endless rows in central Florida where -- like all too many places in our food system -- the plantation economy would continue if leaders like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and so many of us in solidarity, had not organized for justice in the fields. 
I will be taking action because we don’t have a lot of time -- perhaps 10 years. Ten years is what family farmers have told me they estimate to be our timeline for keeping small growers on the land -- an even worse equation for black farmers, facing much quicker land loss.  Ten years to prevent the most catastrophic scenarios of climate change, up to a third of which is driven by industrial agriculture.  Ten years before those same practices erode another sixth of the world’s precious topsoil. We can’t wait. We have no ground to lose.

Join me in building a youth food movement that takes action because climate, immigration, racial justice, and labor are all intrinsically linked - and linked to food. Join me in taking action for a food system where Black Lives Matter. Join me in building a movement to protect the precious seeds, places, and people our survival depends on.
Who is in?
  • The first thing you can do is join one of the 6 regional action trainings we’re planning this February. We will join student leaders in action for their campus campaigns, and do trainings and planning to take action-plans back to our own campus.
  • REPLY to this email for support planning an action on your own campus in February if you don't have one in the works already.

Ready for action,
Anna Hankins - UMass Amherst student