Rural Communities Resource Center (RCRC) as the parent organization of the Filipino Farmers Cooperative, USA

Rural Communities Resource Center (RCRC) as the parent organization of the Filipino Farmers Cooperative, USA

Our Filipino Farmers Cooperative was created to bring the mostly landless farmers in our area together to experience the opportunity of working collectively as a means to ensure successful seasonal crops. Only then could the largest number of farmers have a means to earn money. A successful cooperative works for

Rural Communities Resource Center (RCRC) as the parent organization of the Filipino Farmers Cooperative, USA

Our Filipino Farmers Cooperative was created to bring the mostly landless farmers in our area together to experience the opportunity of working collectively as a means to ensure successful seasonal crops. Only then could the largest number of farmers have a means to earn money. A successful cooperative works for the common-good. Every member of the cooperative is the boss and everyone is the worker; no titles, no position and no work-task are used to separate members from each other. This is true democracy and its enforcement brings about genuine equality at the workplace (in our case, both the farm & marketplace). All decisions are made collectively and all earnings are shared among the farmer-members. The old saying that It Takes Many Hands to Run a Farm is what a cooperative concretely puts into practice. We no longer live in the days when farms had large extended families, gone are the days when rural women commonly had a child every year, Today, in the U.S., there is no longer a large migrant workforce that came to be relied upon to show up during planting & harvest seasons. Cooperatives allow farmers to pull together their people, their meager resources in order to maximize their efforts, energy and time. Yet, despite the existence of cooperatives, history is not on the side of farmers today.

About the Organization:

Our Filipino Farmers Cooperative was created to bring the mostly landless farmers in our area together to experience the opportunity of working collectively as a means to ensure successful seasonal crops. Only then could the largest number of farmers have a means to earn money. A successful cooperative works for the common-good. Every member of the cooperative is the boss and everyone is the worker; no titles, no position and no work-task are used to separate members from each other. This is true democracy and its enforcement brings about genuine equality at the workplace (in our case, both the farm & marketplace). All decisions are made collectively and all earnings are shared among the farmer-members. The old saying that It Takes Many Hands to Run a Farm is what a cooperative concretely puts into practice. We no longer live in the days when farms had large extended families, gone are the days when rural women commonly had a child every year, Today, in the U.S., there is no longer a large migrant workforce that came to be relied upon to show up during planting & harvest seasons. Cooperatives allow farmers to pull together their people, their meager resources in order to maximize their efforts, energy and time. Yet, despite the existence of cooperatives, history is not on the side of farmers today.

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

6-10 YEARS

The Issue:

Today, the northern Tulare County region in the California Central Valley is home to this country's last community of Filipino farmers. After WWII when the prohibitive laws that did not allow Filipinos to purchase land and own businesses were finally overturned, Filipino farming communities sprang up in several locations. Unfortunately, by the 1970s all were ruined largely due to USDA policies and practices that favored and supported industrialized agricultural corporations. Immigrant farmers were especially vulnerable because they could not compete in the market against the bio-engineered & GMO crops that the USDA helped to develop and introduce into the marketplace. As small family farmers, Filipinos did not have the resources to withstand such market pressures. Moreover, no government assistance would be forthcoming; and in those days, banks maintained discriminatory policies and did not make loans to farmers-of-color. One by one, Filipino farming communities were wiped out. The only exception was the Filipino farming community surrounding the small farm towns of Orosi-Cutler-East Orosi. When the U.S. Government finally reversed its virtual ban on immigration from the Philippines in the 1960s, Filipinos were finally able to join older family members in the Central Valley. Upon arrival, they immediately sought employment as agricultural workers for the large corporations in the area. Within 10 years' time some were able to save enough to buy farmland. This new infusion of blood enabled this country's last remaining Filipino farming community to survive. However, unlike former Filipino farmers, most would instead grow their own traditional fruits and vegetables. It would be a good market since large concentrations of Filipinos could now be found in all major urban areas. Today, greater Los Angeles is home to the largest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. And Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, is now the third official language in the City & County of San Francisco after English & Spanish. Why is the survival of traditional farming communities crucial? Health studies show that immigrants, particularly from Asia & the Pacific, are overall healthier than U.S. born residents. Yet, within 7 years of arrival, their overall health diminishes.

The Solution:

Increasing studies now reveal the significant connection between what an individual eats and the overall condition of gut bacteria; a major determinant of overall physical and mental health. The difficulty of buying the fresh fruits & vegetables of the Homeland coupled with the pressures of urban life are major factors that led people to abandon their traditional diet and adopt the Standard American Diet (SAD). The overload of calories, saturated fats, trans-fats, sugar & sodium significantly impact the health of people-of-color, particularly immigrants. Within a few years' time of adopting the SAD diet, immigrants are at the same level of health-risk as the general population. They now easily succumb to the epidemic of diseases now common in the U.S., including diabetes, hypertension, cancer, as well as mental illness. The Rural Communities Resource Center (RCRC) was formed through a series of farm- and house-meetings by Filipino farmers and agricultural workers (landless farmers). Its mission was to establish farmer- and worker-cooperatives as the best economic structure to revitalize the local economies of rural communities. Farmer cooperatives allow traditional farmers to maintain a village-approach both economically and socially. A cooperative brings people together to work collectively for the common-good. RCRC took immediate steps to establish the Filipino Farmers Cooperative in undertaking its stated mission. Its goal was clear: Ensure the economic survival of our country’s last remaining Filipino farming community who would prioritize the health of its people. This DNA Eat-Smart approach won broad support within the community. In 2020, the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) in Los Angeles offered its space & labor-power enabling the farmers to successfully launch its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Unfortunately, its success was short-lived when pandemic restrictions banned public events. Now finally in Fall 2022, conditions are ripe to resume the FilipinoCSA. At the invitation of both the PWC & its new partner, PoloPantry, the Filipino Farmers Cooperative is preparing to once again hold regular CSA distributions & Sari-Sari Markets. Popularizing FilipinoCSA is essential in educating community members, particularly the U.S.-born, about the health need to follow a DNA diet by consuming the produce grown by traditional farmers.

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