At the founding conference of Food For Peace held in Chicago, Illinois, Sept. 3-4, 1988, including 400 participants from 30 of the United States and representatives from five continents, the following founding document was unanimously adopted.
It is the inalienable right of every single human being living on this planet to have adequate amounts of nutritious food in order to live a productive life. In years past, when the United States allowed the productive family farmer to produce, America had the capacity to produce large surpluses and farmers had the moral outlook to feed the world. Over the last 20 years, and especially the last 10 years, there has been a systematic effort to destroy the family farmer worldwide.
It has been the deliberate policy of the super-cartel, along with our own United States Department of Agriculture, to drastically reduce the number of independent family farmers. They have used the propaganda of "overproduction" and "poor management" to hide their real intentions of contracting U.S. food production, thus reducing the world's food supply.
Their policy has resulted in the current worldwide food crisis, which for the first time will result in food shortages here in the United States. The drought is not the fundamental cause of the crisis. Rather, it has revealed the dilapidated infrastructure and decline in investment in food production in this country. We must reverse the post-industrial trend of the last two decades that has led us to the brink of eliminating our agricultural and manufacturing industries.
Presently, there exists a huge demand worldwide for food. To bring the world's people up to the level of food consumption that we used to enjoy in the United States would require a massive increase in food production. If we look to the year 2000 with an expected population of 6-8 billion human beings, we would have to more than triple current food production levels. A new, reformed monetary system will make credit available for countries to import necessary amounts of food, as well as for producers to make the investments to produce that food. Until the Soviet Union radically improves its agricultural industry, it will depend on the West for food, too. However, we cannot allow the USDA to exclusively export cheap food to the Soviet Union at subsidized prices, while millions go hungry in the Third World.
It is now urgent that we massively expand food production in this and every other country. We must insure that not one person goes hungry or needlessly dies for the lack of food, which we could easily produce with the correct policy.
To accomplish this awesome but necessary task will require that we build an ever-expanding movement in the United States together with our friends from other countries, whose goal will be to feed the world. We support the following emergency program:
1) All farm foreclosures must cease immediately, so that not one single additional farm is taken out of production.
2) An immediate nationwide audit must be conducted, in the briefest period of time, to determine the true level of grain reserves.
3) Total national farm debt is over $200 billion, and is forcing farmers into bankruptcy at an accelerating rate. This debt must be placed in moratorium until farmers can generate new income from increased production.
Farmers must be paid parity prices for their products. No longer can we let the cartels buy farmers' products at less than half of the cost of production. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the food producing industry from the grip of a small group forming a super-cartel that is attempting to control the food supply of the West. President Roosevelt ensured parity by making it the law, that farmers be paid 100% parity for their products. The same should be done today.
Farmers must be freed from the interest rates dictated by the Federal Reserve that force farmers further into debt. New low-interest credits are required to allow farmers to engage in maximum food production. Cheap credit is required for expanded operating costs and for investments in new capital improvements and infrastructure necessary for expanded production in the future.
All tilled or potentially farmable land taken out of production as part of government set-aside programs, or taken out of production because the farmer could not afford to farm it at current prices, is to be put back in production at the fastest possible rate. If parity is guaranteed and cheap credit is available, the farmer knows how much land to farm without government interference.
There is no reason for shortages of water in or out of drought years if sound principles of fresh-water management are followed. The "North American Water and Power Alliance" project to bring water from Alaska and Canada south into U.S. farmland, as well as many smaller water projects, have already been studied and are ready to go as soon as we have the will to implement them. Along with water, abundant energy is needed and can be provided inexpensively by renewed commitment to construction of nuclear power plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency has gone too far in preventing farmers from using necessary but safe insecticides and pesticides, including DDT, in the name of protecting the environment. In fact, the EPA, through its too numerous regulations, has acted to reduce the amount of farmland and food produced in the United States, thus directly contributing to the present food crisis and many of our environmental problems. The EPA's activities should be suspended pending careful review of its policies.