Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
THE BRIGHT LIGHT OF JOHN KINSMAN
The physical life of John Kinsman has ended, but he lives fiercely in the hearts and minds of the myriad people he touched and his many close friends.
Wisconsin dairy farmer, a dear friend to many, a tireless warrior for food sovereignty, and a champion of family farmers in his home town and literally around the world. While continuing to run his dairy farm, John traveled around the US and the globe showing up wherever people needed to hear about the plight of family farmers, how they needed a fair price, and the need to turn upside down exploitative trade and farm policies. Even as he began to decline he would be out with the masses, marching with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and speaking in front of crowds.
This quote gives you a sense of John's unique humor and colorful stories, "Organizing farmers is like pushing a wheelbarrow of frogs.”
John lived life with abundance, fought for justice, laughed with friends and enemies, inspired me and so many others, and will be sorely missed!
~andrew kang bartlett
"John Kinsman, a dairy farmer and loving husband and father from the hilly Driftless region of Wisconsin was an unlikely and unassuming giant in the global struggle for justice and food sovereignty. But a giant he was, touching the lives of countless people around the world in his 87 years of farming, protesting, strategizing and building relationships and solidarity.John died peacefully yesterday at 87, on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, surrounded by family on his farm."
Read the "In Memory of John Kinsman," by Siena Chrisman on the WhyHunger blog.
Federal food assistance programs, particularly WIC and SNAP, have the ability to carve out spaces in which individuals can be empowered... The increased buying power that SNAP offers low-income families and individuals is a tool they can use to take control of their diet. WIC, even with the restrictions, is yet another tool. These resources, along with other resources such as budgeting and nutrition education, provide a space in which individuals have authority over what they eat and how they use their personal resources. And this authority, this control over their being, gives spaces for empowerment.
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If you remember back to the last farm bill reform activities, you may even remember Daryll Ray and his analysis around subsidies. Well, myths around subsidies being the root of all evil in the farming system persist even among groups such as Bread for the World. Granted the issue can seem complex and it's easier to mimic what others say (I certainly confess to this sin), but Professor Ray has done a great job of explaining the real story. Thanks to Presbyterian farmer and advisor, Brad Wilson, we have resources on this topic below at the tip of your fingers. Thank you Brad! And if you wish to learn from and join with Presbyterians discussing (and acting on!) similar topics, such as how folks are overhauling the food system with local and regional faith-based initiatives, you are welcome to join the PCUSA Food and Faith Groupsite. Just sign-up to join and you'll soon be part of this growing group of Agrarian Allies! Daryll Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee has written many excellent materials on the farm bill, price floors, (“price supports,”) farm subsidies, supply management, and related topics. Ray’s best summary of the topic is probably the Executive Summary to his (et al) 2003 report: “ Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide.” Read more...
If you have heard the term - FOOD SOVEREIGNTY - and not known what they heck it is, take heart because you are not alone. But our friends at Grassroots International and the National Family Farm Coalition have come to the rescue. Now you can hear U.S. and international family farmers talk about what food sovereignty is to them - simply! And you if you can read it in your mother tongue, if that happens to be English, Spanish or Portugese. (French is coming soon)