Webinar Series

June 24, 2021 Webinar

How Parity Differed for BIPOC and White Farmers, and Reasons For/Consequences of Losing It

The National Family Farm Coalition, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, and American University Center for Environment, Community & Equity invite you to a free webinar on Thursday, June 24, from 1:00pm to 2:30pm Eastern Time. This is the second in a year-long series focusing on the Disparity to Parity Project. You may register here

The divisions between rich and poor, rural and urban, BIPOC and White, landed and landless, Main Street and Wall Street look as wide today in the U.S. as they have ever been. To understand the depths, causes and remedies of this situation, a diverse group of farmers, activists and scholars began exploring the notion of parity and supply management together nearly two years ago. That journey has led to an array of essays, videos and conversations on parity, and how the lives of everyone involved in the food system would be changed with true parity and social peace.

In recognition of Juneteenth and the disparities and racism experienced by diverse communities throughout the U.S. and the world, a panel of esteemed guests will look more closely at the history of parity and what parity has meant to different sectors of the food and farm system.

Guest speakers include (please see full bios below):

  • Raj Patel - Research Professor at LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin, facilitating the discussion
  • Brenda Cochran - Dairy farmer, American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association and Farm Women United representative (PA)
  • Ben Burkett - Diversified farmer, Indian Springs Farmers Association director, and Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund representative
  • Brad Wilson - Iowa farmer and farm justice historian
  • Bill Winders -  Professor of History, Ivan College of Liberal Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology

This webinar is free, but click here to reserve your place today. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with details for joining the meeting. The event will be recorded.

With deep gratitude to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color growers and harvesters of food who continue to teach what true parity should be. We also appreciate and stand in solidarity with the Indian farmers fighting for parity in protest of governments and a neoliberal, pro-corporate, free-trade system that seek to diminish their lives and livelihoods.

Full Speaker Bios:

Brenda Cochran

Brenda Cochran was a self-described “city girl” before she married her husband Joe, a dairy farmer, in 1973. She joined him on a small farm in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where they raised their family of 14 and fought the good fight. 

At one point the Cochrans milked almost 300 cows, but now milk a herd of 80, still and always rotationally grazed. No matter the herd size they have struggled against a federal dairy pricing system that, “did not take into account the cost of a farmer's production -- feeding and caring for the cows”.

The Cochrans were among the thousands of dairy farmers forced to dump milk during COVID-19, despite requests from people who work with the homeless population in New York City to dairy processors for donations of excess milk. 

Brenda is president of Farm Women United, a board member of American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association, and member of Progressive Agriculture Organization. She is an outspoken and tireless advocate for farmers, rural communities and the right of everyone to safe, nutritious, locally produced food.

Ben Burkett

Ben Burkett has been a mentor to many farmers, myself included. He is a graduate of Alcorn State University in Lorman, MS. Ben is a fourth generation farmer and has farmed for over 50 years growing amazing vegetables, as well as cattle and timber, in Petal, MS. 

Ben works with the Southern Federation of Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and serves as Chairman of the Mississippi State Farm Service Agency Committee. He became an activist and cooperative organizer to help farmers access markets and government programs denied to Black farmers by generations of systemic racism. He has served on countless boards and advisory committees over the years. 

As NFFC's longtime board president, Ben often represented NFFC around the world, including to the international peasant movement, La Via Campesina. He is a 2014 recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award and was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2020.

When Jim Goodman took over as NFFC board President, he said, "I knew I had some big shoes to try and fill." 

Dãnia Davy

Dãnia Davy serves as Director of Land Retention and Advocacy at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, the largest and oldest cooperatively-owned organization whose membership includes Black farmers, landowners and cooperatives. After double concentrating in Community Health and Africana Studies at Brown University, she completed her academic journey at University of Virginia School of Law. Dãnia has ​written extensively on ​heir property, Black land loss, ​racial disparities in maternal mortality, racial disparities in the criminalization of mothers, and disparities in healthy food access for low-income and communities of color.  

Dãnia began her legal career as a Skadden Fellow at the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project ​implementing a project she designed to provide community education and estate planning to improve Black farmers' access to legal services in the rural South. ​She developed the documentary - "Our Land, Our Lives: The North Carolina Black Farmers' Experience," served on the inaugural North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council and co-authored “Black Agrarianism: Resistance” in the book Land Justice: Re-Imagining Land, Food, and the Commons. She has lectured and facilitated workshops at conferences on the local, state and national levels on equity issues facing rural, Black America. ​

Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson has served on the staff of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and on the National Family Farm Coalition board of directors. He has a long history fighting for family farming against a rising tide of “get big or get out” farm policies, caring deeply about rural Americans and his fellow farmers. 

Brad says his research shows that subsidies are not the problem - it's the lack of price floors for crops and managed supply that has driven smaller family farmers out of business. The beneficiaries of this system are often the food corporations that have aggressively shaped policies to ensure they can buy agricultural products at the lowest possible prices.

The connections that Brad and others in the Family Farm Movement of the ’80s and ’90s made between rural issues, farming and racism resonated with Black farmers, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign. His historical knowledge of farm programs, policies, consolidation and the resultant demise to small farms and rural America is matched by few in academia.

Bill Winders 

Bill Winders holds multiple degrees in Sociology from McKendree University, from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and from Emory University.

He is currently a Professor in the School of Sociology at Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Institute of Technology, specializing in political sociology, social movements, the world economy, inequality, and food and agriculture.

Bill has published several articles and books examining the global politics of grain crops and the meat industry, voter turnout, social movement dynamics, and market instability for various agricultural commodities in the global context of food and agriculture.

His first book, The Politics of Food Supply:US Agricultural Policy in the World Economy, won a 2011 Book Award from the American Sociological Association.

Bill Winders has influenced an entire generation of food system thinkers and researchers, not only with innovative and insightful analysis, but with his shoe leather research -- painstakingly sifting through historical archives and untold data sources to find and clearly present the evidence that people need to form their own understanding.

Raj Patel

Raj Patel received a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, a Masters from the London School of Economics, and a PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University.

Having been a visiting scholar at Yale and the University of California, Berkeley, Raj is currently a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin and a Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University, South Africa. 

In addition to numerous articles he's published several books, including The Value of Nothing, a NY Times Bestseller. His latest book, co-authored with Rupa Marya and titled Inflamed: Deep Medicine and The Anatomy of Injustice, will be available this August.

He is currently launching his film, The Ants and the Grasshopper, a story of climate change and the world's most vulnerable farmers. It won the “Moving Mountains Award” at the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride Colorado, the first of many awards, I am sure. 

Although a classically trained economist, Raj is a radical who believes that the world economy is vastly skewed in favor of the 99%, that trickle-down economics never has and never will work, and that the real creators of wealth do not work on Wall St. but rather in the small towns, working class neighborhoods and rural areas of the world. 

    April 23, 2021 Webinar

    Earth care requires wise agricultural and food policies that mandate fair pricing and update supply management to build a racially just, economically empowered, and climate resilient food system. In short: moving from Disparity to Parity.

    Please join the National Family Farm Coalition, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, American University Center for Environment, Community, and Equity, and our partners in a roundtable conversation to dig deeper into the history of disparities in our food system and policy ideas that can move us toward achieving parity. This will be the first in a year-long series.

    Featured Speakers:

    The event emceed by Niaz Dorry, director of the National Family Farm Coalition and North American Marine Alliance. Closing thoughts will be offered by Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Associate Professor at AU School of International Service.