Land stewards rally in Rushford
Over 100 farmers, small business owners and other rural residents came together in Rushford June 29 at a Land Stewardship Project (LSP) meeting to discuss how excessive corporate power negatively affects almost every aspect of their lives, from access to affordable health care to the kinds of seeds that are planted.
“Every place we turn, it’s corporate power that is in the way of making our communities better,” LSP associate director Mark Schultz told the crowd. “We are organizing rural people to stand up to corporate power so we can make positive change in our lives, in our communities and on the land.”
Taylor Peterson, a crop and livestock farmer from Peterson, explained how he sees the frac sand mining industry in southeast Minnesota as an immediate example of corporate interests exploiting rural communities. He shared the negative impact this kind of “boom-and-bust” corporate-backed industry could have on his young family and his community.
“So much is at stake not just for me, but for my kids,” Peterson said. “The damage these corporate-backed mines will have on our land, environment and roads is extraordinary — what will be left in our community once the mines close and the corporations move on?”
LSP policy organizer Bobby King explained how rural Minnesotans have the power at the township level to stop and restrict unwanted development, like frac sand mines, from coming into their communities.
“By organizing together, neighbors can win passage of township ordinances that will keep this harmful development out of their communities,” King said.
Participants in the meeting pledged to take several steps in coming months to fight corporate power in rural Minnesota. Among other things, many people committed to organizing with friends and neighbors at the township level to win policies that will prevent corporate-backed frac sand mines from coming into their rural communities.
“None of this happens without people taking action together,” Schultz said. “Corporate power has gone too far, and the only way to diminish their power is to organize together to build our power as people.”
The Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project, who contributed this report, was founded in 1982 and is a grassroots organization focused on food communities, farmer training and community organizing that promotes healthy land and justice for all. It has offices in the Minnesota communities of Lewiston, Montevideo and South Minneapolis.