Tom Willey is an organic farmer and has been a Slow Food chapter leader and the governor of Slow Food USA’s central California region. Tom and his wife, Denesse, have operated T&D Willey Farms since 1981, a seventy-five acre certified organic spread in Madera on which they grow a wide array of Mediterranean vegetables year round. Willey Farms’ produce is appreciated in specialty markets and fine restaurants up and down the west coast as well as on the tables of over 800 weekly CSA members in their own community. Tom passionately advocates for local food prominence through his writing, his speaking and radio appearances, and in his ongoing work with Slow Food Madera.
Tom is also one of the plaintiffs in a recently filed action against Monsanto that aims to end Monsanto’s aggressive practices to defend their patented seeds from actions they deem to be contrary to the terms under which they make such seeds available. Some of these practices include taking farmers to court even when Monsanto’s patented plant material on the defendant farmer’s property is likely due to pollen drift, which is beyond the farmer’s control.
Slow Food USA has published a Q&A with Tom about his motivation for joining the lawsuit and its goals, and more information about the action and related work is available on the Public Patent Foundation’s website.
Films including Food, Inc. have addressed this issue and Monsanto’s actions against farmers, seed cleaners, and others. The CBS news segment below provides a brief example of the type of practice the lawsuit seeks to end: