We – along with OPSEU/SEFPO’s entire Executive Board – stand in solidarity with the farmers in India who are leading one of the largest protests in history.
India’s BJP government is relying on a divide-and-rule strategy by inflaming religious, ethnic, class, caste, and gender differences. It recently passed a series of new agricultural laws that threaten the environment, food security, and the very livelihoods of 250 million farmers.
While crises in human rights, education and health care go largely unaddressed, the government rammed through agricultural legislation in September that galvanized farmers to act. They are fighting to save a way of life that is vital to the entire country and beyond.
The new agricultural laws cement the hold of large corporations on the country’s food industry.
Chemical-based farming is much more expensive while reducing the fertility of the land. A vicious cycle has developed – farmers are being forced to take out burdensome loans to afford more chemicals in order to increase yields on their increasingly infertile lands.
At the same time, the new laws privatize the country’s government-controlled wholesale grain market, allowing food corporations to drive prices down.
The suicide rate among farmers is now higher than it has been in years. But instead of addressing farmers’ pleas for consultation and support, the government is responding with force. It is using security forces to arrest protesters and clamp down on protests while shutting down Internet access in some areas.
This isn’t just a story about India.
We all depend on food. We all depend on farmers who have the know-how and the passion to farm sustainably and responsibly.
However, an estimated 70 per cent of all the farmland in the world is now controlled by just one per cent of farm owners. In Canada, small and family farmers have long suffered from government policies of deregulation and privatization. During the pandemic, most of the industry’s government aid has gone to large farm owners.
This also isn’t just a story about farming.
We must all stand against governments that put profit before people. OPSEU/SEFPO has a long, proud tradition of offering its solidarity and support to workers around the world fighting against oppressive forces like apartheid, austerity, and fascism.
Today, we’re proud to stand in solidarity with farmers in India as they lead their country in the fight against privatization.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU/SEFPO