By John Collins for In These Times
(Photo Credit: FPG / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
“The local regional food economy we want, needs territory,” says farmer, activist and grassroots organizer Severine von Tscharner Fleming. “Global demands and pressures have lengthened supply chains and concentrated control—water pumped from our aquifers irrigates low-value crops destined for distant markets. Cattle raised in family operations are sold at auction to be fattened on feedlots controlled by the beef monopolies.”
These larger structural issues are shaping our national landscape, says von Tscharner Fleming, and her latest startup, a collaborative effort called Agrarian Trust, aims to secure alternative land access arrangements for new farmers.
The Trust estimates that “in the next 20 years, 400 Million acres of U.S. farmland will change hands.” As today’s farmers age and retire, current social and economic trends suggest these acres will fall into the hands of an ever-consolidating few and that the land itself will endure further exploitation in the name of one short-sighted economic gain or another.
Partnering with like-minded allies in the new economy movement, such as the Oakland-based Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and the Schumacher Center for New Economics, the Agrarian Trust is working to preserve access to affordable farmland, in perpetuity, for the purposes of ecologically responsible, community-owned food production.
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