Via Campesina Press Release on Katrina

[Received from Via Campesina email mailing list. Does not appear to be posted to Via Campesina's website as of 9 September 05.]

Date: Fri, 9 Sep 2005 08:40:13 -0500
To: Recipient List Suppressed: ;
From: Peter Rosset
Subject: Via Campesina on Hurricane Katrina

La Via Campesina
International farmers movement
Movimiento campesino internacional
Mouvement paysan international

secretaria operativa/operative secretariat:
Jin. Mampang Prapatan XIV no 5 Jakarta Selatan, Indonesia
Tel/fax: +62-21-7991890 Email:


Recently hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast Region upsetting the lives and livelihoods of many people of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the United States. In rural areas farmers had their crops, homes and farm buildings destroyed and electricity and phone service are disrupted. It has devastated the urban communities of New Orleans, Mobile, Gulfport and Biloxi. Especially poor, nearly exclusively black people were trapped. Thousands may have lost their lives and tens of thousands had to wait too long for evacuation in extremely difficult circumstances.

Henry Saragih, international coordinator of Via Campesina from Indonesia, one of the the countries that was hit by the Tsunami last year: "One thing is the enormous material damage caused by the Hurricane but what really shocked me was the incapacity or even disinterest of the federal government to mobilize from the beginning support and co-ordinate the evacuation which was desperately needed, especially for the poorer people who had no possibility to leave the area in time. Again the poorest people have to suffer the worst consequences. Poverty combined with total lack of state organisation and support were the cause of enormous suffering and the loss of many lives during this hurricane."

The National Family Farm Coalition, member of Via Campesina in the US, has several member organisations in the area and many members are directly affected. George Naylor from NFFC: "Our member organisations in the area have started initiatives to support affected families, helping them to register for short and long term assistance. Over time the organisations want to set up long term recovery initiatives based on the self-help principles of the cooperative movement."

Henry Saragih: "As Via Campesina we will mobilize all the necessary support to our member organisation in the US. We also want to raise our voice to make sure that the US and other governments generate sufficient support that also reaches the marginalized and the poorest. We call upon other social movements to support initiatives of people and organisations in the region so that they can build up their lives again".

The NFFC is supporting fundraising and relief efforts for those in the region. For further information see below.

How to support rural communities hit by the hurricane Katrina

Information from the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC)
Contact person Kathy Ozer +1-202- 543-5675,

A long-time member of the National Family Farm Coalition is the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. They are based in Atlanta and have a training center in Epes, Alabama and extensive farmer-controlled farmer marketing cooperatives, credit unions, and housing cooperatives in Southern Alabama and Mississippi - regions both heavily hit by Katrina. Donations can be sent directly to the Federation: 2769 Church Street, East Point, GA 30344.

Other options are to donate to the Farm Aid Disaster Fund. Farm Aid has already donated $15,000 for supplies for the camp in Alabama, a special grant to Farmers Legal Action Group for hurricane disaster response and to the Louisiana Interchurch Conference and will be holding their 20th Anniversary concert in Chicago in two weeks. In addition, some musicians have announced that they will be donating proceeds from other concerts to the Fund.

You can donate to the National Family Farm Coalition -- - 110 Maryland Ave..N.E, Suite 307; Washington, D.C. 20002. We have re-activated our Credit Task Force and will be working to do what we can to make sure that the federal disaster assistance meets the needs of family farmers - and push for legislative fixes to existing programs.