Last month Walmart announced a $1 billion initiative to source produce from 1 million small and medium farmers, which the behemoth says will increase their income by 10 to 15 percent. Walmart’s plan is to offer their customers more locally raised food as part of their corporate sustainability effort. This news has obviously created quite a buzz among supporters, skeptics, and the mainstream media. (You can tap some of it here, here, here, and here.)
As usual, Walmart has been silent in this discussion. Like every other major corporation, it totally controls the release of info and manages its spin; you see controlled quotes from anonymous spokespeople, or canned interviews, but candor is not happening. But now that we’re living in a de facto corporatocracy, maybe it’s time our rulers were held a bit more accountable, not only to their stockholders but to their customers, and to those affected by their decisions.
Here are a few things we’d like to know about Walmart’s new effort; feel free to add to the list, and, in a week or two, we’ll send it along (probably to someone who’ll proceed to ignore us):
How do you define “local”?
Will your local suppliers—and their workers—be treated with respect and paid full value for their produce?
How will you value the produce itself, by quality or by volume?
Will your initiative put any farmers out of business?
How open will you be about this process? How will we be able to chart your progress?
(Photo Credit: mjb84 via Flickr)