Three weeks ago I found myself in Ft. Collins surrounded by 600 people wearing cowboy hats, UFCW t-shirts and Food & Water Watch buttons. Despite the diverse attire, everyone spoke with a unified voice for making our food system more sustainable and just. It was powerful. It was exciting. And it was packed.
This public forum was organized in conjunction with a series of USDA and DOJ hearings going on around the country to examine what is broken with our food system. The independent ranchers and farmers, workers, consumers, urban farmers, foodies, and food justice activists in the room all know that too few corporations control the majority of our food -- how it's grown, processed, advertised, and distributed. They came out to bring democracy back to our food system.
During the hearing itself, I was heartened to hear Colorado Attorney General John Suthers come out in favor of putting more teeth in Colorado's anti-trust laws to make sure that corporate agribusiness can't harm consumers and producers. Our elected officials from Colorado should play more of a role in challenging the corporate control of our food.
Now that the Fort Collins hearing is over--you can read a full summary here--the USDA will hold its fifth and final hearing in Washington D.C. before finalizing the rule they have drafted to level the playing field for independent farmers and ranchers. We've waited nearly 90 years since the original piece of legislation to prevent corporate control of our food was passed in 1921. It's time for the USDA to finally implement and enforce the legislation; they have the tools to make sure our food systems works for all of us--not just the corporate giants who currently control it. We need these rules now. No more delays. No more excuses.
And to ensure we don't suffer more delays, Colorado's Congressional delegation needs to urge USDA to take this step. Senators Bennet and Udall and Representative Markey have the opportunity to make our food system more just and sustainable. I hope they rise to the occasion. There are thousands of Coloradans hungrily awaiting change.