Equity is at the center of the Fair Farms Campaign. From farmworkers to consumers, we are working to rebuild our food system on the foundation of just, equitable, and sustainable practices for the benefit of all people equally.
We acknowledge the legacy of racism and inequality inherent in the establishment and perpetuation of our current food system. Our agricultural system was founded on land theft and violence against indigenous communities and the enslavement and torture of Black peoples. Slavery’s effects continue to permeate throughout the food system today as Black farmers are often denied loans and other federal assistance due to their race. Today, Black farmers make up less than two percent of all farmers in America–a recent report shows that this decline is a direct result of the United States Department of Agriculture’s discriminatory lending practices. Not only are Black, indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) undervalued, discriminated against, and dismissed within the system, but BIPOC are also disproportionately food insecure and live in areas with unequal access to affordable, nutritious foods.
An estimated 2.4 million farmworkers are people of color that do not own or operate the farmlands they cultivate. We believe farming is a powerful tool to build sustainable and resilient communities that are economically prosperous. While we advocate for a level playing field in land ownership, we recognize that the solutions we propose must be done by and with BIPOC communities. Fair Farms connects with BIPOC community members, leaders, and organizers to promote on the ground answers to land acquisition barriers.
Food service employees and farmworkers are often neglected or removed from food-conscious dialogues. We must value the people that are feeding the world and ensure that they are continuously being centered in conversations around restructuring the food system to be more equitable. One of our top priorities is securing a livable wage for farmworkers. After months of us campaigning in 2019, Maryland passed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour through a five to six year phase in; however, to our disappointment, farmworkers were exempt from this new standard. COVID-19 has exposed the necessity of securing a livable wage for all employees, especially those working within the food system.
Fair Farms uses our platform to highlight and uplift BIPOC voices and continuously question our understanding of the issues related to our food system and racial inequality. For us, centering equity in the food system means campaigning for a livable wage for farmworkers, challenging racism, making healthy foods more accessible, supporting BIPOC land ownership and highlighting BIPOC food businesses, and protecting immigrant food workers.
Fair Farms’ legislative commitments to promote a just and equitable food system include:
- Farm Workers and Maryland minimum wage
- The Maryland Food for Maryland Institutions Act
- The Maryland Farms and Families Fund
- Access to Healthy Food (“Complete Streets”)
- Food Donation Pilot Program Expansion