While conducting my research for my project, I came across the grassroots organization “Milk Not Jails.” This organization is very impressive. You wouldn’t think Mild could have anything to do with jails but it does! The North Country is a perfect example. As you know St. Lawrence county is the poorest in New York State. The regional economy is highly dependent on the prison industry. There are 5 prisons between Ogdensberg and Malone. We have seen a dependency on prisons and a decrease in the number of dairy farms. Dairy farms aren’t getting proper prices for their milk and dairy products, being bought out by large corporations. Due to the combination of the failing dairy economy and the profits of prisons locking up drug offenders (Rockefeller Drug Laws), half empty prisons such as in Ogdensberg stay open. Lawmakers oppose prison reforms because they have to represent the prison guard unions, and the prisons that employ them.
Milk Not Foods works to get dairy farms competitive prices therefore boosting the local economy and decreasing the reliance on local prisons. The organization also bolsters urban/ rural connections by organizing food markets in the city which buy rural dairy products. This also brings nutritious foods into urban communities. Milk Not Foods is striving to integrate rural dairy products into school cafeteria menus in the city. Wouldn’t it be great if St. Lawrence could become a supporter of this initiative? We always talk about wanting to give more back to the community!
Here is the link to the Milk Not Jails website with an excellent explanatory video on the “facts” page. http://milknotjails.wordpress.com/ The founder of the organization also worked a lot with St. Lawrence professors on community development projects!
This discussion directly relates to Marx. Would there be so many people incarcerated if there wasn’t a North Country economy directly dependent on correctional facility jobs? This is the Prison Industrial Complex! We are making money off of incarcerating people! This goes along with the idea of false consciousness we have discussed. The same people dependent on prisons are also supporting a system that in other parts of the state is incarcerating their same class. Although the majority of those arrested are minorities from the cities in contrast to the White lower/middle class community of the North Country. That is another discussion of race relations and institutional racism which I will discuss in another blog. It is just extremely interesting to me how through economics everything is related. The world of dairy farms has a great influence on inner city communities in the city. If we can get classes to join together in one collective effort that benefits everyone, what change we could see!