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Family farmers denounce state economic development plans

(Monday, May 19, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release.

St. Louis, MO. May 16th, 2003 – Family farmers from around the Midwest converged in St. Louis today to challenge the multi-state economic development strategy of supporting the genetic engineering industry. Farm group leaders visited the Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA), one of the architect’s of Missouri’s taxpayer-funded “Biobelt” Initiative, urging them to stop wasting scarce government resources on corporate-driven development.

“We’re here to put the politicians, the lobbyists and economic developers on notice; Stop wasting our money on research, seed money and tax incentives for corporate agribusiness,” said Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) President and Chillicothe, MO, livestock and grain farmer Bill Christison. “The biggest bang for our economic buck is the family farmer. Family farmers are the backbone of our food system, our rural communities and the conservation of the environment.”

George Naylor, a leader from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and President of the National Family Farm Coalition, traveled to St. Louis from his farm in Churdan, Iowa. “We know what it takes to build jobs and economic development in the Midwest: fair prices for farmers’ crops and livestock, fair and competitive markets and good conservation programs that reward farmers for environmentally-friendly practices. Spending billions of taxpayer dollars on genetic engineering is like flushing our money down the drain.”

Farm leaders will be bringing their experience and stories to the International Gathering on Biodevastation. The theme of the event is "Genetic Engineering: A Technology of Corporate Control." The three-day gathering is hosted by the Gateway Green Alliance, and is a counter-event to the World Agriculture Forum. (WAF). WAF is a global consortium of corporate agribusiness elites made up of Monsanto, Cargill, Pioneer, Bunge and the Farm Bureau among others.

“We’ve been speaking out against corporate welfare for the genetic engineering corporations for years, and we’re going to continue our fight,” said Wisconsin dairy farmer and Family Farm Defenders leader, John Kinsman. “We need to make the Midwest the ‘Family Farm Belt,’ not the center of taxpayer-funded handouts to huge corporations.”