Is Urban Agriculture a Catalyst to Gentrification? Jillian Hishaw

In rural areas, the constant encroachment on small farms is oppressive to say the least.  However, this hindrance also takes place in urban areas.  Urban agriculture at times can be a catalyst, to gentrification.  It starts with a vacant lot being converted to a raised bed garden for the community.  If the community was invested, a few years past and chicken coops are added along with mural’s and nice fencing to add to the aesthetics.   Suddenly, the lot that use to be home to loitering and back pocket drug exchanges by high school kids tired of being broke.  Eventually, it becomes clean, prime real estate in the greater metropolitan area.  After five years, the old home of the late Mrs. Johnson is bought by a flip or flop realty company along with other homes on surrounding blocks.  The low-income aesthetic becomes the “new, trendy” neighborhood for new transplant elites from NYC relocating for affordability.  Once the community farmer or local urban farming non-profit puts in the sweat equity, the City sales the lot to build new condos starting at $250 K for 1,000 sq. ft. units.  While urban farms do add to the resolutions of food insecurity, the reality is it also has a different impact in some cases. 

A prime example is the Washington DC area of LeDroit Park, a working-class community neighboring Howard University and the “trendy, hip” area of Shaw.[1]  Shaw consists of affluent dwellers compared to LeDriot.[2]  With renovated row houses selling at $800,000 in Shaw and LeDroit being home to an urban farm located within a low-income housing area.[3]  Gentrification hits you right in the face.  According to a Civil Eats article "since 2001 the city's [DC] white population jumped 31 percent, while its Black population declined by 11 percent."[4]  Another example is the Peachtree & Pineworks homeless shelter located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  Operating since 1997 and managed by the Metro Atlanta Taskforce for the Homeless on August 28, 2017, after 20 years of operation the men’s shelter closed.  Although the relationship between the City and Shelter had been contentious since the beginning, the shelter housed a roof-top garden that was utilized as a job-training program.  The shelter sued and a settlement of $9.7 million was reached which included relocation fees.[5]  During the time of the shelters closing the City of Atlanta and United Way pledged $50 million to combat homelessness.[6]  Will other cities follow Atlanta’s lead in combating displacement and development?  What about the estimated four billion dollar, 30-year redevelopment project of over 500 acres in South Chicago.[7]  The list of examples is endless along with the number of urban gardening and farming initiatives surrounding these “up and coming” neighborhoods or as the developers of the Chicago project advertised it a “new community.” [8]  Mixed-use housing projects should include diversified income requirements to counter the displacement.  Reducing property taxes and rent control initiatives can be resolutions.  Also, encouraging residents to move to less populated rural areas and providing monetary incentives like South Dakota compensating lawyers is a plausible alternative. [9]  Once an urban farming initiative increases the value of a lot and gradually the neighborhood, the same people that beautified the neighborhood are often the first to be displaced.  Eventually, the concern of affordable housing is discussed after the building permits have long been issued.  

 

[1] Massey, Brian, Civil Eats, “D.C. Urban Farms Wrestle With Gentrification and Displacement,” February 27, 2017 https://civileats.com/2017/02/27/d-c-s-urban-farms-wrestle-with-gentrification-and-displacement/  

[2] Civil Eats

[3] Civil Eats

[4] Civil Eats

[5] The Metro Atlanta Taskforce For the Homeless Homepage, https://atlantataskforceforhomeless.org/

[6] Capelouto, Susanna, WABE, NPR “Atlanta Shifts Strategy on Homelessness After Shelter Closure” October 10, 2017 https://www.wabe.org/atlanta-shifts-strategy-homelessness-shelter-closure/

[7] Editor, Area Chicago, “Development and Displacement in South Chicago” 2018 copyright http://www.areachicago.org/development-and-displacement-in-south-chicago-the-new-downtown-and-the-same-old-story/

[8] Area Chicago

[9] Rural Attorney Recruitment Program, South Dakota United Judicial System, http://ujs.sd.gov/Information/rarprogram.aspx

Fire Next Time: Preparing "the Rites of Passage" of Faithland

Fire Next Time: Preparing the Rites of Passage of Faithland

Gen: 9:11 2Pet.3:6,7 

“Fire next time” resonates in my mind when I think of the current state of affairs politically, spiritually, and agriculturally.  The adage of “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” is often stated during burial services.  If you think about it from the literal sense, that’s what will becomes of all of us.  We return to the land.  The land is the source of the plentiful bounty if utilized correctly, as we all witnessed as a group. 

Faithland Conf. 3.2018.jpg

However, it can also bring “fire next time.”  The average gram of soil contains over 4,000 microbes.[1]  There is life in he soil but if stripped away its nothing but dirt.  Each year 24 billion tons of soil is lost worldwide due to erosion replaced by flammable substitutes.[2] Farmers use amendments and potting soil to replace the life, lost in the soil.  

 Photos of Man in Dust storm during the Dust Bowl Era - courtesy internet source

Photos of Man in Dust storm during the Dust Bowl Era - courtesy internet source

-The ground is cracked because there is no rain in the land; the farmers are dismayed and cover their heads. Jeremiah 14:4

The Faithland gathering represented the new reality of parishioners aging, rural churches closing and the land creating a resurgence of people’s spirituality and belief in God.  The critical trajectory is the church’s ability to let go of the land that was never their’s, to begin with in regards to original ownership.   Who owns the land? Native communities?  The collective body of Christ?  In our discussion, friction between parish leadership and the lone farmer was prevalent across many religious sectors.  The importance of the land of origin and tribe was stated but yet missing.  In retrospect, when all the “t’s’ are crossed and the “I’s” are dotted in a strategically well-written lease agreement.  What will it all mean when there is “fire next time”?

For centuries land has been the focal point of war and conflict, i.e., the Gaza Strip.  Native tribe against native tribe and country against country.  If you are a believer in God you can attest to the signs of “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places” we are living in the last days.[3]   What we do with the land in the last days was the overall theme.  How we treat others, re-gifting land back to rightful owners are all things that we grabbled with as a group.  In a sense, we all gathered to assist the church with “getting its affairs in order” similar to preparing an estate plan or a body for burial.  We collective are the body of Christ.  We are working to prepare the land for its last rites of passage before “fire next time.”  I am not a leader of the cloth.  I am a lawyer dedicated to protecting aging farmers.  Relating this experience to the church’s “last days” and leaving a legacy are prevalent topics that need to be discussed not only by people but institutions.   

We all attend funerals to pay our last respects.  The Lord states “the day of death is better than the day of birth.”[4]  Allowing old ways to die gives birth to new life.  Farmers give birth to life from soil.  Vacant church lots, land, and buildings held tight by hierarchy and doctrine is squeezing the life out the church.  There is an urgent need to help the church transition into new life.  Personally, this is what the convening symbolized to me.  

[1] Nature https://www.nature.com/news/2008/081008/full/455724a.html

[2] Soil Lost https://www.globalagriculture.org/report-topics/soil-fertility-and-erosion.html Soil Amendments Combustible http://kdvr.com/2016/09/04/firefighters-suspect-potting-soil-caused-aurora-deck-fire/

[3] Matthew 24:7 NIV

[4] Ecclesiastes 7:1 NIV

"Pineapple Grower Sells off More Than Del Monte Can Sue"

In 2001 Del Monte and Inprotsa, a pineapple grower in Costa Rica entered into a growing contract. However, by March 2014, Del Monte filed a breach of contract claim against the grower in International Court of Arbitration Court.  Del Monte alleged the grower began selling pineapples originating from the 61 million MD-2 seed provided to the grower to competitors instead of returning the seed back to Del Monte after the contract expired.  On June 16, 2016, the arbitrator awarded $32 million to Del Monte. On December 6, 2016, a district court in Florida, rejected Inprotsa request to vacate the arbitration award due to the lack of new evidentiary support.  Unfortunately, the judge did not affirm the award as requested by Del Monte. On March 27, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit remanded Inprotsa appeal request back to the lower court in Florida, questioning if the lower court’s decision was appealable since the award was never affirmed by the lower court. 

The case was later transferred to federal court and in May, 2017 the federal court refused to affirm Del Monte’s request to force a third party to garnish the debt owed by Inprotsa. Since the arbitral award was not affirmed by the judge back in December of 2016.  For Del Monte sake let’s hope Inprotsa doesn’t file bankruptcy to avoid paying the award.  However, if the debt was acquired as a result of fraud or misrepresentation it cannot be discharged under Chapter 7 but it can possibly be discharged if filed as a Chapter 11.  Since the award has not been affirmed, the concerns regarding bankruptcy is a bit predestined. If Inprotsa did file bankruptcy, the company must consider whether filing Chapter 11 as a corporation or Chapter 12 as a farmer provided the most protections.  Chapter 12 allows farmers to repay back part of their debt over a period of three to five years. While Del Monte was the lead plaintiff in this suit, Del Monte was recently on the receiving end of a lawsuit filed by Walmart late last year.  For more information about this suit please read my “Kiss my Starkist is what Walmart is Telling the Company in a Recent Lawsuit”

Jillian Hishaw, Esq. LL.M. (Agricultural Law) has over a decade of professional experience in agriculture and is the Founder and Director of F.A.R.M.S. a regional non-profit in the Southeast that provides legal and technical services to small farmers.  Hishaw is also owner of Hishaw Law LL.C.  For more information about Hishaw's work please visit www.hishawlaw.com or www.30000acres.org.

https://www.law360.com/articles/906570/del-monte-to-get-clarification-on-32m-pineapple-award  

https://www.law360.com/articles/924662/del-monte-can-t-garnish-debt-for-32m-award-judge-affirms

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/florida/flsdce/1:2016cv24275/494149/47/

http://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-12-bankruptcy-basics

“Kiss my Starkist is What Walmart is Telling the Company in a Recent Lawsuit”

On October 31, 2016, Walmart filed a lawsuit against Chicken of the Sea, Starkist and Bumbe Bee arguing between 2008 to 2015 the companies colluded with one another in a price-fixing scheme. Although, the demand for canned tuna has diminished in the past decade the price has not.  Del Monte was also listed as a party since the company controlled part of the Starkist operations during the time period.  In May 2017, Walmart amended its petition to add over 50 executives to the original law suit.  Since 2015, price-fixing suits against the three packaged seafood companies have been pending in various courts.  Walmart states in its lawsuit it annually purchased an estimated 25% of the canned tuna industries products during the stated time period.  

The Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation was prompted by Chicken of the Sea attempt to purchase Bumble Bee for $1.5 Billion in December of 2014.  Once the potential merger was announced, a DOJ investigation ensued and the merger did not move forward.  On May 8, 2017, Bumble Bee plead guilty to price-fixing and agreed to pay a $81.5 million fine. This comes after Chicken of the Sea allegedly was the first to strike a deal with the DOJ and began “singing like a canned tuna” to diminish its potential fines and liabilities.  According to the Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the DOJ Antitrust Division, “the division, along with our law enforcement colleagues, will continue to hold these companies and their executives accountable for conduct that targeted a staple in American households.” Clearly, the DOJ and the pending retailer lawsuits like Walmart and Wegman’s will continue to move forward with investigating this “whale of a tale.”

Jillian Hishaw, Esq. LL.M. (Agricultural Law) has over a decade of professional experience in agriculture and is the Founder and Director of F.A.R.M.S. a regional non-profit in the Southeast that provides legal and technical services to small farmers.  Hishaw is also owner of Hishaw Law LL.C.  For more information about Hishaw's work please visit www.hishawlaw.com or www.30000acres.org.

Resources:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/bumble-bee-agrees-plead-guilty-price-fixing

https://www.seafoodsource.com/commentary/the-most-important-details-of-the-walmart-suit-against-the-big-three-tuna-companies

https://www.unitedstatescourts.org/federal/casd/490709/

Progress for Poultry Growers Hits a Delay

The Farmer Fair Practice Rules have been delayed by the Trump Administration until November 14, 2017.  The Rules were initiated by Congress during the drafting of the 2008 Farm Bill. Congress wanted the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine if packers were violating the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S), which ensures fair pricing and retail protection within agricultural markets.  The Grain Inspection Packers & Stockyard Administration (GIPSA), is the enforcement arm of the P & S Act or the “anti-trust” act of agriculture. Unfortunately, for the past few decades the poultry industry has taken advantage of the lack of non-enforcement.  Currently, 97 percent of the poultry industry uses contract growers to raise, the 9 billion chickens we consume on average.  With 51 percent of the industry controlled by two companies, contract growers are at the mercy of the integrator. The Rules will require integrator's to adhere to certain provisions to ensure better compensation and treatment of the growers. 

After receiving over 60,000 comments over the past seven years and analyzing the economic impact from the grower and packer’s perspective objectivity the delay by the current administration is just another deterrent for growers.  The time to make the rules effective are now and long overdue.  The rules were suppose to go into effect on March 20, 2017 but due to the delay, the Trump Administration has now reopened the comment period again.  Please submit your comments by June 9 in support of the rules.  

Jillian is the Founder and Director of F.A.R.M.S. is a regional nonprofit in the Southeast focused on providing technical services to small family farms and landowners in an effort to protect inter-generational land ownership.  Jillian is also Owner of Hishaw Law, LL.C.  Please follow us on social media www.30000acres.org Instagram: f.a.r.m.s       FB: F.A.R.M.S.

Resources: 

https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/federalregister/fr16/FFPR-FAQs.pdf 

http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/about-the-industry/statistics/broiler-chicken-industry-key-facts/

https://www.cornucopia.org/2017/05/action-alert-tell-usda-to-protect-organic-animal-welfare/?utm_source=eNews&utm_medium=email&utm_content=6.3.17&utm_campaign=LivestockMORE  

                                                                    # # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Ms. Jillian Hishaw, Esq. email at info@30000acres.org 

Dairy Farms Effects on Climate Change

The storage of large amounts of manure on any sized livestock operation is often met with challenges. The use of manure fertilizer is often a better alternative than mineral fertilizer but too much of a good thing has consequences. Too much manure application increases the production of methane gas. Anaerobic digester's converts liquid manure into methane with the use of bacteria and no oxygen. According to a 2011 National Hog Farmers article, Charles Gould, Michigan State University Extension, “90% of the anaerobic digester's currently in place can be found on farms of 500 cows or more."

A farm must conduct a preliminary, technical and financial assessment prior to moving forward with digester implementation.  The preliminary assessment involves an operator determining if they have the capacity to meet the manure availability, management, electricity and maintenance requirements. [i]  The technical assessment focuses on the digester system type, size and onsite capacity.[ii]  Financial consideration is essential and is the main deterrents for many livestock operators.  Assessing the availability of state tax credits, federal funding, carbon credits, sale of electricity, and low interest loans, are all ways to reduce the initial costs.[iii] The USDA program, the Rural Energy for America Program provides up to $500,000 of unrestricted funds for non-renewable projects like methane digesters construction on agricultural lands.

[iv] Nationally, mostly all states offer some type of incentive for nonrenewable projects. California offers the most incentive programs at 272, followed by Minnesota at 212 and Texas at 166.[v]  Jillian Hishaw, Esq. LL.M. (Agricultural Law) is the Founder and Director of F.A.R.M.S. a regional non-profit in the Southeast that provides legal and technical services to small farmers and Owner of Hishaw Law LL.C. For more information about Hishaw's work please visit www.hishawlaw.com or www.30000acres.org.

Resources

[i] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. n.d. AgStar: Financing. Available online: https://www.epa.gov/agstar/financing-anaerobic-digestion-projects

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2012. Funding On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion. Available online:https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-12/documents/funding_digestion.pdf

[iv] U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. Rural Development: Program & Services: Rural Energy for America Program. Available online: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency

[v] Dsire. n.d. Systems: Programs: Maps. NC Clean Energy Technology Center. N.C. State University. Available online: http://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/maps