December 21, 2014
From: The Bartlett Brothers
[Stephen Bartlett, Andrew Kang Bartlett and David (Bartlett) Abazs]
Round River Farm
5879 Nikolai Road
Finland, MN 55603
To: The CEOs of Monsanto, Walmart and Tyson Foods
[Mr. Hugh Grant, Mr. Doug McMillon and Mr. Donnie Smith respectively]
Re: Future of Food National Debate
We write on an urgent matter. We three Bartlett Brothers were shocked by the proselytization taking place at the 2014 Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention held in Louisville, Kentucky, where two of us reside and the third from Minnesota was participating as an exhibitor. Witnessing the indoctrination of legions of young people at FFA (which included keynote presentations by both Tyson and Monsanto representatives) with inflated myths and half-truths, compels us to challenge you on these critical matters.
We Bartlett Brothers hereby propose a National Debate with you on the Future of Food. We offer to debate you anytime on the merits of industrialized commodity agriculture, with its long-distance shipping, high inputs and mass marketing (short-hand, ‘Big Ag’) versus the merits of small- and medium- scale sustainable and often organic production, with its decentralized system of production, processing and distribution of food (short-hand, ‘Agroecological Farming’). In fact, given the vast impact of our food and farm system on the multiple crises our society and the world face, we demand such a debate.
We await your prompt reply. Surely, you have nothing to fear in debating the Bartlett Brothers, since we are simple farmers, gardeners, community organizers and food justice advocates and have never run a Fortune 500 corporation as each of you are doing. We are searching for a public personality to moderate the debate, and we are open to your proposals and scheduling details in that regard as well.
Each month that we do not hear from you, we will post a new debate question, cite your public stances on the topic, and present our thoughts and answers. We welcome you to submit questions for the debate.
While those who advise you may attempt to discourage you from such a public debate, we encourage you to defend your industry and your honor as leaders in the food system. We look forward to hearing from you.
Stephen Bartlett, Andrew Kang Bartlett and David (Bartlett) Abazs
cc: Michelle Obama
Tom Vilsack, USDA
Krysta Harden, USDA
Congressman Rick Nolan
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Al Franken
Congressman John Yarmuth
Senator Rand Paul
Senator Mitch McConnell
John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Jere Downs, Courier-Journal