Statement issued Jan. 25 by Ellie García, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from California in 2022.
Working farmers are victims of conditions over which they have no control. But these are not primarily natural disasters such as the drought raging in California today. They are social conditions, the result of the workings of capitalism.
Farmers are exploited by the banks and real estate sharks that hold title to their land. Processing and distribution of food and other farm products is monopolized by giant corporations that ruthlessly squeeze them. The manufacturers of farm implements, seed, fertilizer, and pesticides, and the energy and grain trusts, have first dibs on farmers’ incomes.
One of the results of the for-profit setup is the fact that today’s heavy rains in California are allowed to run off into the ocean, leaving no relief for drought-plagued working farmers.
Under capitalism, working farmers take all of the risks: the burden of crop failures, unstable market conditions, high interest rates and taxes. In the case of drought, regulatory bureaus — such as the numerous California water boards and agencies claiming to “protect the environment” — tighten restrictions on access to water, benefiting capitalist agriculture. This means that in rural communities, workers’ wells are left contaminated and often dry.
There are different classes of farmers, both exploited and exploiters, with sharply conflicting class interests. Working farmers are debt slaves. Workers are exploited by the capitalists who profit from our labor. We face a common enemy, the capitalist class. The working-class movement, our trade unions, can be strengthened by extending solidarity to working farmers.
The labor movement needs to take a lead in forging an alliance between workers and farmers, so we can fight together for a program that guarantees farmers their costs of production, including their living expenses, and relieves them of the staggering debt burden they carry. Farmers need to know that our unions are behind them against attempts to foreclose on their land and rob them of their livelihood. They need relief from the economic uncertainty and ruin that constantly hangs over their head.
When the workers and farmers in Cuba made a revolution in 1959 they went on to establish their own government and fought to carry through far-reaching nationalizations of industry and utilities. Titles to land were given to thousands of peasants who wanted to farm. By nationalizing the land, the government abolished the rents and mortgages system and debt slavery, and guaranteed the land would be in the hands of those who wanted to use it. A thoroughgoing revolution that takes power out of the hands of the capitalist class and replaces it with a workers and farmers government can accomplish the same in this country and set a powerful example for toilers the world over.