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NCC Interfaith Study Session In Minneapolis Connects,
Supports Family Farmers Locally, Globally

April 24-26, 2000, Hilton Hotel, Minneapolis North, 2200 Freeway Blvd. 

            April 18, 2000, NEW YORK – “Agriculture, Food Security and Globalization: The Impact on Rural Sustainability,” a three-day study session in Minneapolis sponsored by the Agricultural Missions Program Ministry of Church World Service/National Council of Churches, will bring together 65 local, national and international participants to examine the continuing global crisis among small and family farms while at the same time exploring strategies and solutions to the crisis. 

            Four Minneapolis-based organizations are hosting the meeting: Land Stewardship Project, Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy, Minnesota Food Association, and Minneapolis Council of Churches.  These groups are contributing presenters and events, including a field trip to two local farms practicing sustainable farming methods on Tuesday, April 25 from 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 

In keeping with the spirit and content of the session, meeting organizers encouraged the Hilton Hotel to work with a supplier of locally produced foods, Whole Farm Co-op, and to redesign its menu to include these foods.  “The hotel found it could do this without having to increase its prices, proving our point that alternatives do not have to be more expensive, and people will be eating high quality organic foods,” said Eva Jensen, NCC Agricultural Missions Director. 

            “The presentations, discussions and field trip will all help participants to understand the common struggle small and family farms are experiencing the world over,” Ms. Jensen said.  “We will have 10 international guests as well as several local Native American presenters exploring the connections between local food security and global agri-businesses, marketing systems and trade policies.  There is a clear link between these issues and the economic well being of real men, women and children in rural communities.” 

            Ms. Jensen stressed the focus on alternatives.  “Often the rural and family farm issue is presented as the crisis that it is, but without pointing to real options and alternatives that exist,” she said.  “This makes it appear as if the industrialization of agriculture is inevitable when in fact there are a lot of innovative and successful models of local sustainability and food security.  We will be observing some of the Minnesota-based alternatives which are doing watershed work supporting farmers, encouraging sustainable practices, linking rural and urban communities,  and addressing a wide range of environmental and economic concerns.” 

            A session on “International Perspectives on Agriculture and Food Security,” to be held April 25, 7:15-9:30 p.m., will include experiences and perspectives from El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad.  Other sessions will explore the ethical, moral and theological questions related to the production and distribution of food within the global system and the education and advocacy role of the churches in these issues.  An April 26, 8:30-10 a.m. session on “Local Advocacy and Action and Congregational Experiences and Perspectives” will include Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and (by affiliation) Muslim participants. 

            Agricultural Missions is a program ministry of CWS/NCC whose mission is to facilitate sustainable models of development by supporting the efforts of grass roots and non-governmental organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America the Caribbean and the United States. 

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