Three Speeches by Bishop Dingman on the 1980s Farm Crisis (from the December 2013 via pacis)
Three Speeches by Bishop Dingman on the 1980s Farm Crisis
by Frank Cordaro
This year’s Occupy the World Food Prize week was awesome! Second year into the campaign and we were real players in the public discourse about the World Food Prize and who it serves. And on a personal level I was able to help resurrect the good spirit, life and prophetic witness of Bishop Maurice Dingman, a man who had more faith in God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church than anyone I ever knew.
It began when we secured Jim Hightower to be our keynote speaker in February. Soon after that we got the Des Moines Methodist Federation for Social Action to co-sponsor the Hightower event and they secured the First United Methodist Church. And Citizens for Community Improvement signed on to co-sponsor the event and help us fill the church.
Next came the announcement in June that this year’s (corporate) World Food Prize committee was picking three of their own to be the recipients of their prize. Naming three GMO inventors as their 2013 World Food Prize winners lifted the veil that usually stands between the recipients and the owners of the prize. This made the odds of us filling First United Methodist Church even better.
Then Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope’s peace and justice man, came into the picture. The Cardinal accepted an invitation to be one of three world leaders to speak at the official (corporate) World Food Prize. And to the surprise of all, the Cardinal also accepted an invitation to speak at our Occupy the World Food Prize Jim Hightower event! In her letter of invitation to Cardinal Turkson, Sharon Donavan from the OWFP working committee wrote that “Iowans fondly recall the prophetic words of Des Moines’s late Catholic Bishop, Maurice Dingman,” and she cited three great quotes from speeches Bishop Dignman gave during the 1980s Farm Crisis.
We referenced Bishop Dingman for the Cardinal because much of what we had been reading about the Cardinal and his position on corporate agriculture in Africa and in the rest of the developing world struck a common chord with the way Bishop Dingman framed the problem for Iowans and the small US farmer during the 1980s Farm Crisis.
We ended up filling the First United Methodist Church October 16 program with a combined billing of Cardinal Turkson and Jim Hightower. We also got an hour with the Cardinal and eight OWFP leaders in an informal conversation about corporate agriculture. A big thank you to Bishop Pates, who moved heaven and earth to find time for OWFP people and the Cardinal to spend together.
In the end, we had a hand in bringing our anti corporate agriculture message into the public discourse surrounding the Word Food Prize and we had input with our message with the largest corporation in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, through the Pope’s main peace and justice man, a Cardinal from Africa, Cardinal Peter Turkson, a guy who sounds a lot like Bishop Dingman! Amazing …
As for me, this year’s effort was a labor of love for Bishop Dingman, my second father and friend whom I loved dearly.
What follows are excerpts from the three speeches that Bishop Dingman made during the 1980s Farm Crisis. Ron Rossman said that these speeches “are the most important documents on farming and social justice in America since the Great Depression” at our October 15, 2013 OWFP Bishop Dingman Panel.