Small Farmers Fight Food Giant

Earlier this week a group of New York farmers gathered at Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office to protest the growing influence of large-scale agribusinesses.

Particularly troubling to small farmers is the increasing patenting of seeds by major agricultural businesses. Many New York farmers, for example, are concerned that several strains of buckwheat and canola seeds are considered corporate intellectual property.

The problem that many farmers face relates to the practice of saving seeds. Typically, after harvesting their crops, farmers will save their seeds for future plantings. However, since many new varieties of seed are corporate property, they can only be leased for a single harvest and not saved for future years.

Faced with ever-increasing leasing costs, many farmers are being forced to look for new seeds and new crops to plant, forcing many to abandon their scheduled spring planting.

The increasing patenting of seeds comes in the midst of increased tension between small farmers and major agribusinesses. Earlier this month, for example, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Monsanto. The lawsuit, initiated by a group of organic farmers, sought to challenge Monsanto’s patents of various genetically modified crops.

The protestors gathered at Senator Gillibrand’s office were hoping to pressure her into challenging agricultural giants like Monsanto in the upcoming farm bill. According to a representative from Food & Water Watch, “The senator has supported antitrust policies to break up big agribusiness monopolies before, so we are asking her to continue her efforts.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer