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Latino Farmers & Ranchers International

2023 Congreso, October 26–28, Isleta Resort & Casino


Isleta Pueblo, one of 19 pueblos in New Mexico, is a crossroads of Native and

traditional ecological knowledge of people who have survived and are continuing

to adapt from colonization, and to drought and climate change. During a time of

catastrophic climate chaos, global economic dependence and imbalance, pandemic,

unjust working conditions for farmworkers and food chain disruptions, a historic,

national and international gathering took place in 2022 at the Isleta Resort-Casino.

Its theme was “Our Land Stewardship Legacy.” Nearly 500 people attended,

including 200 school-aged youth who participated in seed, growing and harvest

workshops.


The 2023 Latino Farmers & Ranchers International (LFRI) Congreso will be held at the same place, from Oct. 26 to 28. LFRI’s mission is to provide policy advocacy, as well as farm management and sustainability training, education on conservation best practices and technical assistance to enable multiethnic farmers, farmworkers and ranchers to transition to and thrive in Indigenous, regenerative and sustainable farming and ranching operations. In the process, LFRI intends to help strengthen and safeguard the U.S. food supply system.


The annual Congreso is a forum where issues are raised publicly and voted on. There is a plenary session and workshops. LFRI’s constituent base of historically disenfranchised Latino, Black and Indigenous people of color small farmers and ranchers focus on solutions to the myriad of problems facing the farm and ranch complex in the U.S, and to establish relationships with stakeholders and advocates from both the public and private sectors. The gathering provides opportunities to connect directly with resources and markets that have traditionally not been accessible.


One motivation of the 15-member leadership committee—responsible for the Congreso’s logistics, agenda, workshops, documentation and social media—has been to develop positions and advocacy platforms in real time. “We also established this forum so that our constituent base of Latino and Indo-Hispano (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) communities form a body with the capacity to act,” said LFRI President/CEO Rudy Arredondo. The 2022 Congreso also highlighted the relationships with historic land-based agricultural campesino struggles of México and the continent. “We are seeking solutions to the myriad of problems facing the farm and ranch complex in the U.S. We foster meaningful relationships in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood,” Arredondo said.


Some of the resolutions that arose from the 2022 Congreso:

• A Seed Sovereignty Declaration stating that seeds will not be exploited as commodities, and farmers have a right to keep and exchange seeds

• Prioritize youth development, mentoring and engagement in agriculture, harness resources and develop educational programs that will create the next generation of earth stewards, farmers and ranchers

• Support the creation of gardens, edible landscapes and outdoor learning spaces in schools and communities

• Request that the New Mexico Legislature pass legislation to provide funds to cover the non-federal matching requirements for all restoration and conservation projects in the state

• Support having hemp designated as a commodity not regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

• Work for racial equity, access to capital, USDA programs and business plan management

• Support labor, H2A (a program that allows foreign nationals who meet specific requirements into the U.S. for temporary agricultural work); Farm Bill recommendations; climate, conservation and cost-share programs

• Prioritize rural broadband Latino Farmers & Ranchers fostered a partnership with the Organic Trade Association to provide guidance and resources for transitioning from conventional cultivation practices and prepare for organic certification. The organization also

formed a partnership with the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences to support the school in becoming a resource for expanding agricultural sciences high schools across the country and as a step toward implementing an Agricultural Youth Corps.


 

Jaime Chávez, from Atrisco, N.M., is national field organizer with the Rural Coalition

and works with LFRI.

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